Opinion writer Chris Watson takes a psychological look at Newcastle University’s attempt to reduce bike theft.
A simplistic human eye has been proven to change our country’s troubled state of bike theft.
A recent Newcastle University study has found that pictures of staring eyes forms the same principle of supervision as CCTV and, subsequently, drastically reduces the level of crime, evident on bike sheds within this university area, which has seen a mammoth 62% theft reduction.
Along with the formidable label “we’re watching you”, the glaring pair of human eyes stare deep within the thief and forms an interaction, through direct eye contact, that places them inferior to the surveillance and shuns an aggressive and disgraced image. The powerful picture withholds sinister eyes sunken within a shadowed and mood-ridden face depicting an authoritative figure, which forces the criminal to speculate on the person behind the eyes, and, someone is imagined who permits morals within the criminal.
The man may be someone from the legal department, or perhaps a parental member, but the lack of detail allows speculation. We all conform to bettered norms with the perception of a powerful observer, used to it through rigorous telling offs from lecturers and parents alike in a bid to encourage cooperation in the best sense possible. Therefore it seems an obvious implementation to install such successful posters within our university area. I for one have witnessed bike crime, and the shocking truth is that the helpless public can do little more in the brief event than to watch in horror, or turn their back. By using such a diagram along with blunt intimidating phrases, many will flee under the pressure and with knowledge of one of the 1.85m national cameras potentially catching them.
I think that the use of eyes and blunt degrading statements needs to be altered throughout the sheds to create a belief within observers that someone is watching. I believe that cameras still need to be used at certain spots to enhance this scheme, but the limited need for CCTV will further the power of these posters.
This exercise is genius, and the success proves that our mild mannered students will be woken up to the sight of their bikes, the same as in Newcastle. This, in turn, may install morals that effect other potential crimes, aiding a safer and healthier university city in all aspects.