Overview of the document “Capturing Crime, Criminals and the Public’s Imagination”
The authors, Lippert and Wilkinson, question the effectiveness of some of the highly embraced surveillance systems like the CCTVs and CS. The authors focus on the privacy concerns about the display of images on these surveillance systems and how they can lead to the apprehension of crime suspects. The question that is explored by the authors here is whether these surveillance systems can be fully deployed in the apprehension of criminals given the fact that criminals are becoming more intelligent. Criminals can now manage to hide their identities even under these surveillance systems.
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Surveillance footages and privacy
The article expounds on the privacy issue, where the authors raise concerns about the privacy level that is violated when the images from the surveillance systems are released to the public for identification and possible apprehension of criminals. Although clear images can be released from the CCTV cameras, the images often contain third-party players. Some of the third party players are the victims of crime. It predisposes third parties to possible risks.
Under normal circumstances, criminals who are apprehended using the evidence, that is released by the surveillance cameras are bound to divert their agony to the background players by linking them to their identification or tracking. Therefore, the anonymity issue, which is critical in the detection and apprehension of criminals, comes under sharp criticism because of the use of CCTV surveillance to catch people who commit crimes. The question of embracing anonymity will remain to be rhetorical given the ease with which the CCTV footage can be accessed from the CS website.
The authors also bring out another dilemma concerning CCTV surveillance. Some countries, such as Canada, have private guidelines requiring the firms to use CCTVs to notify people of the presence of CCTV cameras. The authors raise concerns about the disclosure of the presence of surveillance cameras and the possibility of compromising the security of the enterprises that have CCTV surveillance. However, questions are raised about the validity of the efficiency of the surveillance systems if all people are notified of the presence of the surveillance systems. It can give a chance to the criminals to conceal their identities under the cameras.
While the law requires disclosure, there is no guarantee for the people who enter the stores that such footage is not being transmitted to the security organs. It violates the issue of privacy and anonymity when incidences of crime come up. Customers are sometimes victimized by the security organs, yet the security organs cannot ascertain that the customers are participating in criminal activities. The authors give the example of an erroneous transfer of CCTV footages to the police by a bank in Canada. The bank suspected that a customer was cashing stolen checks. It later turned out not to be the case. It is an example of how the character of the customer can be defamed, in addition to the psychological torture the customer can undergo.
Surveillance footages and stereotyping of minorities
It has also come to the attention of the authors that the surveillance systems can be used to promote racial witch-hunting. It is evident in several countries like Canada and Australia where the minority groups are overrepresented in the surveillance reports released from the surveillance systems. The authors note that the reports are released after the analysis of CCTV surveillance footage by the CS. The authors term this as the ‘ratchet’ effect, whereby surveillance is used as a means of victimizing the minority groups.
Lippert, Randy, and Blair Wilkinson. “Capturing Crime, Criminals and the Public’s Imagination: Assembling Crime Stoppers and CCTV Surveillance.” Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 2010, pp. 144–46. Web.