The use of CCTV to police public spaces : a case of big brother or big friend?

Dee, Michael J. (2000) The use of CCTV to police public spaces : a case of big brother or big friend? In 27th Rediscovery of Public Space & Cities for the Well-Being Of Children, 4-8 July 2000, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper considers the role of CCTV (closed circuit television) in the surveillance, policing and control of public space in urban and rural locations, specifically in relation to the use of public space by young people.

The use of CCTV technology in public spaces is now an established and largely uncontested feature of everyday life in a number of countries and the assertion that they are essentially there for the protection of law abiding and consuming citizens has broadly gone unchallenged.

With little or no debate in the U.K. to critique the claims made by the burgeoning security industry that CCTV protects people in the form of a ‘Big Friend’, the state at both central and local levels has endorsed the installation of CCTV apparatus across the nation. Some areas assert in their promotional material that the centre of the shopping and leisure zone is fully surveilled by cameras in order to reassure visitors that their personal safety is a matter of civic concern, with even small towns and villages expending monies on sophisticated and expensive to maintain camera systems.

It is within a context of monitoring, recording and control procedures that young people’s use of public space is constructed as a threat to social order, in need of surveillance and exclusion which forms a major and contemporary feature in shaping thinking about urban and rural working class young people in the U.K.

As Loader (1996) notes, young people’s claims on public space rarely gain legitimacy if ‘colliding’ with those of local residents, and Davis (1990) describes the increasing ‘militarization and destruction of public space’, while Jacobs (1965) asserts that full participation in the ‘daily life of urban streets’ is essential to the development of young people and beneficial for all who live in an area.

This paper challenges the uncritical acceptance of widespread use of CCTV and identifies its oppressive and malevolent potential in forming a ‘surveillance gaze’ over young people (adapting Foucault’s ‘clinical gaze’c. 1973) which can jeopardise mental health and well being in coping with the ‘metropolis’, after Simmel, (1964).

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ID Code: 57344
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: CCTV, Surveillance, Young People, Public Space, Urban
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Causes and Prevention of Crime (160201)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Criminological Theories (160204)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2000 Michael Dee
Deposited On: 17 Feb 2013 22:26
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013 19:44

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