Effects of Cctv as a Surveillance Strategy

Topics: Closed-circuit television, Surveillance, Crime prevention Pages: 10 (4707 words) Published: December 9, 2012
What are the effects of the use of CCTV as a surveillance strategy in the UK?
Surveillance is proving to be a very effective technique to ensure the feeling of safety and security among the people of a state. Traditionally surveillance was done manually using human patrolling by police and law maintaining bodies in the city. Then with the introduction of CCTVs we started using video surveillance. This essay will begin by briefly outlining what is meant by surveillance further explaining varying ways in which CCTV is used in the UK and global as a surveillance strategy. Surveillance loosely meaning to monitor people from a distance without actually coming into contact with the subject, one such method is CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has become a familiar tool in aiding to improve security nowadays with cameras installed virtually everywhere. The word surveillance owes its origin to the French word for "watching over" (Wikipedia, 2012) in sociology terms surveillance can be defined as, ‘Monitoring the activities of others in order to ensure compliant behaviour.(Social Science Dictionary) such examples include electronic equipment (such as CCTV cameras), consumer transactions, personal information supplied to varying government employees i.e. Doctors. All this information is very useful to governments and law enforcement agencies in helping to maintain social control. The social theory of surveillance can be traced back to the utilitarian work of Jeremy Bentham (1791) and his vision of rational social control. He invented the concept ‘Panoptican’ a prison design that allowed for uninterrupted inspection, observation and surveillance of prisoners (Drake, Munice & Westmarland, 2010, pg 11). The process of control was gained by the impression that the unseen eye was watching, and with the prisoners unaware of when the threat of potential surveillance resulted in them ‘assure the automatic functioning of self-control and self-discipline on the part of the prisoners (Drake, Munice & Westmarland, 2010, pg 12). Similarly, the CCTV camera may produce a self-discipline through fear of surveillance, whether real or imagined.(Armitage, 2002). With more and more information readily available to the Government this information can be powerful. According to Simon Davies 'It is in the nature of government to secure power for itself, and often it is power for the sake of power. And power, once it is centralised, is automatically abused’. (Bowden, 2001) CCTV has typically been introduced to assist in the fight against crime, mainly to deter and detect crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour, but also to help reduce ‘fear of crime’ (Webster, 2009). With Close Circuit Television (CCTV ) Cameras being the main form of surveillance in modern day Britain, and with an estimated 1.85 million cameras it is almost impossible to avoid being caught on camera at some point. Richard Thomas, former information commissioner warned in 2004 that the UK might ‘sleep-walk into a surveillance society’ and according to Christopher McDermott (2) ‘you won’t be able to hide from the system by closing your door or closing your curtains or hiding behind a wall’. They will become, as Dr Stephen Graham of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne has suggested, the "fifth utility", after telephones, water, gas and electricity (Bowden, 2001). According to (Coleman 2005, Mooney & Talbot, 2010) ‘CCTV cameras are widely used in a variety of circumstances evidence suggests that CCTV is a factor in managing particular spaces; for example consumption zones and shopping malls (pg 150) ‘The hidden locations of the control rooms make it impossible for the public to see from where they are observed’ (Koskela, 2002) here certain activities, behaviours and demeanours can be monitored and filtered out – such as signs of non-consumption in the form of homelessness or congregating youths (Coleman 2005, Mooney & Talbot, 2010, Pg 150) in turn allowing security staff to...
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