The Uk Criminal Justice System Criminology Essay

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The criminal justice system in the UK is comprised of many different agencies. The criminal justice system is society's formal response to crime and is defined more specifically in terms of a series of decisions and actions taken by a number of agencies in response to a specific crime, criminal or crime in general. With the recognition of a crime like incident or in seeking to prevent lawless behaviour criminal justice agencies become involved (Davies, Croall & Tyrer, 2010, p.8). However this system is only a minor means of controlling and regulating society; in this essay I aim to show this by concentrating on how suspects of terror and the general public are controlled and regulated through Surveillance and Private security.

Surveillance plays a large role in social control and regulation. Maguire (2003, p.113)) quotes Lyon (2001) who said that surveillance is 'any collection and processing of personal data. Whether identifiable or not, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnished'. Surveillance has traditionally featured as part of the work that police do and how state punishment is practiced, however in late-modernity, the conducting of surveillance has infiltrated a variety of public and private situations, via a panoply of techniques and technologies, and is performed with multiple objectives in mind. It is no longer the preserve of formal social control agencies such as the police, but in being decoupled from them surveillance has been rendered more systematic and intense (Innes, 2003, p 112). One form of surveillance is the use of CCTV. CCTV began from a mere two local authority schemes in 1987 and by 1999 there were around 440 more. Central Government instigated the growth of CCTV in the UK by making funding available for local areas to bid for CCTV capital grants. Funding initially came from the CCTV challenge competition which ran between 1994 and 1999 making £38.5 million available and this was allocated across 585 schemes nationwide (Newburn, 2003, p.117). The bidding process that followed the release of funding allocated by government for CCTV was built around the rise of the multi-agency approach to crime prevention and reflected the drive towards new modes of governance in local crime control through the encouragement of local coalitions between police, private security, retailers, property developers, local government and insurance companies (Growth of CCTV, 2010). In today's society there are many CCTV systems used such as Public CCTV Systems (Highways, Local Authorities), Quasi-public CCTV systems (shopping centres, transport Hubs), Private CCTV systems (shops, workplaces etc) and Home CCTV systems. CCTV use in Britain has frequently been justified on the basis that they are effective weapons in the fight against crime, reducing the levels of victimization of the users of a location. They are held to work by deterring people from engaging in the criminal activity in the first place, by increasing the offender's perception of the likelihood of being caught (Innes, 2003, p.119). CCTV has many applications in regards to controlling and regulating society. It can be used in residential areas; to monitor those coming into areas to protect resident's safety or it can be used to monitor the residents themselves against anti-social behaviour or vandalism. CCTV is used in school to verify the identities of people collecting children; it can identify causes of accidents and ultimately protects the children (Davies, Croall & Tyrer, 2010, p.142). CCTV is an active weapon in public safety. Every weekend in the UK, CCTV products direct police to public disturbances or to help people in distress. They have also helped to prevent more serious crimes by monitoring vulnerable people walking alone late at night who are, unknown to them, being followed. Cases like these, where the police are deployed and potentially terrible crimes are prevented, help to highlight the use of CCTV security cameras as an effective way to protect the public. Along with the increased amount of cameras in public places, CCTV security cameras are now being used in the work place to monitor staff. This is to enable management to record how long staff are taking for their breaks and if they are doing anything that could be considered inappropriate. This is often seen as an infringement of civil liberties, especially as there is the possibility that, depending where management place the cameras, they could abuse their power (Pros and Cons of CCTV, 2010).

Having being largely taken out of the hands of the criminal justice system, CCTV has become pivotal means of controlling and regulating both general society and groups that are deemed a threat. Overtime, there has been a policy 'shift', so that CCTV policy was also about reducing antisocial and undesirable behaviour, this has encouraged the provision of CCTV beyond town and city centres and into residential and other public places. More recently, the policy has shifted again, and especially since 9/11 and 7/7, so that the emphasis is now also on national security and deterring terrorism. In autumn 2007 the Home Office published the 'National CCTV Strategy' This strategy sets out the role of CCTV in crime prevention, criminal justice and for the prevention of terrorism. The strategy stresses the role of CCTV in serious crimes and terrorist incidents; this has led to a reassessment of the technical capabilities of systems and also the introduction new innovative computerised surveillance practices, such as facial and number plate recognition systems (Webster, 2009). These facial and number pate recognition systems enable suspects of terror to be closely controlled and monitored wherever they are, be it an automated number plate recognition camera recognising a terror suspect entering London's congestion charge zone (Clarke, 2004, p.209) or a facial recognition camera spotting a suspected terrorist in a public area. In recent news the technological advancements in facial recognition cameras enabled al-Qaida leader Osama Bin-laden to be found (MacAskill, 2011). CCTV is useful in controlling terrorism in public places as it is simply not practically possible to deploy police forces or other in every conceivable public area to look out for strange behaviour from people or the placement of strange, unclaimed objects. CCTV cameras can look out for such things and prevent acts of terrorism before they have a chance to take place. The images captured on these cameras are transmitted to a central location where they can be observed (importance of CCTV, 2011). Further advancements in CCTV technology include Video Content Analysis, which uses complex algorithms that detect suspicious behavior in public places such as railway stations, identify suspect packages on platforms, and even identify smoke. Once the system has identified a potential threat, it raises the alarm to a CCTV operator, who will be able to decide how to proceed, without having to monitor hundreds of camera feeds (Loans, 2010).

However some Opponents of CCTV surveillance state that it represents a gross violation of residents' privacy and civil liberties. On June 17, 2010, as a result of much discriminatory controversy, law enforcement officials in Birmingham, England announced that they are halting a counter-terrorism operation by covering up "some" of the estimated 160 hidden and visible automatic number plate recognition cameras , as well as around 40 CCTV cameras, that were monitoring high-Muslim population neighbourhoods (Russo, 2010). Overall CCTV surveillance can be seen in most buildings and streets and is owned by many private and public organisations, it controls both suspects of terrorism and general society well, although it faces much controversy.

Social control is most visibly and dramatically embodied in the police officer. However all policing is not conducted by the police, but in fact relies upon, and involves, a diverse range of agencies and organisations (Innes, 2003, p.63). In 2008 the UK had around 1500 private security organisations with around 250,000 employees (Private Security in Europe, 2008), considerably more than the 141,925 police officers is 2007 (Maguire, 2010, p.7). The Security Industry Authority is the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry. The Security Industry Authority covers manned guarding, key holding and vehicle immobilising. The Security Industry Agency is responsible for the training and licensing of security personnel who deal with many things such as guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained. It is also responsible for guarding one or more individuals against assault or against injuries that might be suffered in consequence of the unlawful conduct of others. Doormen are also employees of private security; guarding licensed premises. Some Private security personnel have the power to monitor CCTV and even immobilize, restrict or remove vehicles (Security Industry Authority, 2011). With more personnel than the police, private security surrounds society; they are present in businesses, shops, bars etc. And due to its size private security is heavily involved in controlling and regulating society. Surprisingly despite its size these private security companies do not seen to have much of an input on controlling suspects of terrorism. However Project Griffin, which is endorsed by the Security Industry Authority, aims to provide strategies, direction, awareness and the implementation of counter terrorism and crime prevention policies and procedures. So in the future we may see Private security not only aiding in controlling and regulating society in general but suspects of terror as well.

Overall the criminal justice system does play a very minor role in controlling and regulating society. CCTV is controlled by many different organisations such as shops, estates, private housing etc, and acts as a deterrent as well as evidence. The fact that private security employees outnumber the police almost two to one shows that the police are not the only people who help control and regulate society.