Monday, 19 September 2011

Surveillance... how do you see it?

I have been thinking about surveillance mainly because my course is starting off with it as a subject, and how it can be seen in different ways by different people.  For the purpose of this post I am limiting the word to mean police presence and CCTV etc., not all the other data that is collected on us which also comes under the term.

In my course DVD, the scenario is a large shopping centre in a relatively poverty-stricken area of Leeds (UK).  As well as CCTV which is constantly monitored, the centre boasts several security guards and a full time police constable. Security is very visible and the people interviewed in the centre said that it made them feel safe; in fact there was a group of people who went there regularly to 'mall walk' for exercise, as they didn't feel safe walking in the public parks nearby.

But I started thinking that if I went to a shopping centre and it was full of security guards, cameras and on duty policemen, I'd think that it must be a risky place to be - otherwise why would you need all the security?

A friend in the States commented on her facebook page yesterday (she knows who she is and I'm sure won't mind me quoting her!): "Huge police presence, as usual. I don't recall seeing so many green helmets and automatic weapons, though. I confess that has made me a tad uneasy just now." and it made me think again about the effects of visible security on the average person.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.  Does a very visible security personnel presence in a 'normal' every day public place make you feel safer?  or more at risk from some unseen threat?


  1. A visible security presence is a must in my town, it gives the average person the piece of mind that if you need assistance then it can be found. Sometimes I wish that more CCTV cameras were around near childrens parks as teenagers loiter there and cause no end of trouble.

    I know someone who works in a store who got rid of security personal to save money and the store is now being targeted more and word gets around that a store is a soft touch so it gets targeted more after.

    If you don't live in an area where there is a fear to step out of your door once the sun goes down (or in some cases the sun is up) then you can not comprehend what piece of mind seeing a copper around can be like.

    Though an increase of police is also a good indication of possible trouble such as football matches its like a possible boiling point indicate. Its a case of oh there must be a football match avoid stations and the stadium area in the run up to kick off and finish.

    To me an average person I see that presence as something to keep me and my son safe, I would rather see more police around and man I would love a cctv on my street then they could catch the little oik who likes putting windows through.

  2. In the situation you describe the area/town itself is a risky place to be and getting of the poverty line is a difficult thing to do once your on it so you have to stay put in that area and if you have one safe area to go to it makes life a little more bearable. Whack as many police, cameras and security as you want in it please the more the merrier maybe spread out a little onto the streets as well.

  3. I'm of two minds.

    In my own bitty town--I don't think twice about the presence of the officers (be they police or sheriffs). They patrol on a regular basis, stop and catch up on what's new and different and chase away the odd skunk/raccoon that wanders into places they oughtn't be! LOL TRUE!!

    In the bigger city--I might think twice about their presence depending on what I know about that area of the city. Might feel safer, might feel less safe....that's based on what I know to be happening and what they're actually doing. So it depends, really.

    Camera's don't necessarily make me 'feel' safer. Many times they're contributing to my 'dis-ease'. I'm not so fond of feeling like I'm WORTH watching. LOL And of course it's all about me. ;-)

  4. I think it's good that we have CCTV cameras, but quite honestly I never think about them. Because I've always been a law abiding citizen (although I drive too fast) they never really register with me.

    That photo of James Bulger will haunt me forever.

  5. It must depend on what you think about Big Brother watching you.

    We only hear about the CCTV cameras when they have been the reason that some criminal has been caught, so are, therefore, seen to be a Good Thing.

    I have no idea how much watching actually goes on, how many of these cameras are manned, or how much openness there is about who/what is being watched.

    I look forward to you telling me :-)

  6. Chibi J & Mel: I agree that it depends on where you live, and what you are used to seeing on a day to day basis.

    Joey: me neither - I know they are there at either end of the street I live on, but so what?

    Rosie: sorry I don't know the answer to that one (yet) - just wanted to see what people thought :-)

  7. Do you think the ones at the end of the street actually work? Is anyone watching? Are they just as effective - like speed cameras - if people think they're there?


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