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8.3.2 Qualitative Evaluation

Evaluation research often focuses on the outcomes of projects as defined by quantitative data that allows the impact of a project to be measured but to really understand the impact of a project and to discover why a project may have an effect qualitative research is also required. Qualitative research attempts to undercover the 'subjective realities' of an intervention by examining how it affects different groups and individuals. Quantitative research looks for 'a single objective reality' but qualitative research acknowledges that individuals may experience an intervention differently and the multiple realities need to be documented (Clarke and Dawson, 1999: 39). The role of the researcher is fundamentally different within the context of qualitative research where they get closer to the data often through data collection that involves interaction with subject whilst quantitative research can involve analysis data whilst being removed from the social world that produced the information.

A number of evaluations have investigated the impact of CCTV on crime levels (e.g. Farrington and Walsh, 2002; Gill and Spriggs, 2005) but to fully understand the actual impact of the cameras on offenders their views must be obtained (Gill and Loveday, 2002). Padgett, Bales and Blomberg (2006) investigated how offenders experienced electronically monitored curfews and the qualitative methodology adopted allowed them to develop a better understanding of whether the sanction was more punitive for one group than another and this has implications for criminal justice policy and theory. Security technologies may impact at different levels across areas and have differential impacts across social groups, and these differences can be understood through qualitative data sources. Useful information about the effectiveness and impact of security technologies can be accessed through talking to the subjects of their surveillance.