Bryant states that an increased alarm as regards the safety of the public is merely as a result of the state in which the world we live today is in. Developing a wide range of innovative and effective means of ensuring public safety will probably remain a focus of the federal and state government for decades to come (para, 1). Even though it is safe to presume that a lot of people see the benefits the society as a whole reap from the enforcement of effective safety strategies, not everyone agree on the most appropriate way to achieve and guarantee public security (Senior p, 35).
Public video surveillance is one of the most commonly used approaches to security, but not without controversy as regards public privacy (Bryant para, 1). Public surveillance is being employed as a means of policing in various nations including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom (Guru, para 2). Other countries however are very conservative as regards the use of public surveillance system as a means of controlling crime (Guru, para 2). In the United States, the issue of public surveillance came into limelight after the September 11 incident.
It was argued that installing surveillance cameras all over the country would greatly assist in the fight against crime as it would enhance monitoring efforts. The government after the September 11 terrorist attacks was faced by a major challenge of balancing protection of the rights of individuals and ensuring public safety (Villano p, 3). The installation of surveillance cameras is considered one of the modern technological advancements towards an enhanced security plan. In an effort to curb crimes, public surveillance employs two aspects: detection and response.
In detection, as a security plan feature, it is a pre-requisite that extensive installation of security cameras be made (Guru, para 3). This makes sure that a watchful eye is always there to optimistically prevent crime from being committed. Cameras are also used to determine perpetrators whenever a crime is committed. In response, the responsible authority will be able to make use of the information gathered through the security system in order to clearly determine perpetrators (Guru, para 3). Video surveillance is highly supported by authorities as it acts as an accurate means of gathering information required in the fight against crime.
Nevertheless, the issue of public surveillance generates a lot of controversy as regards the infringement of public privacy (Senior p, 37). A significant proportion of the general public makes it clear that video surveillance infringes their right to privacy. They argue that public surveillance treats everyone as a potential perpetrator, an aspect that degrades their decorum. This paper will argumentatively look at both sides of the matter in order to come up with a conclusion whether public surveillance should be banned as it violates public privacy or not.
Public surveillance even though violates public privacy is an effective means of preventing crime The issue regarding public and personal privacy is one of the greatest concerns that emanates from the use of surveillance cameras in public places. Opponents of video surveillance argue that even the law supports and safeguards innocent people from arbitrary seizures of information and therefore, it should be banned, and other means of obtaining information devised.
They argue that well informed video surveillance solutions should be developed in order to protect the legal as well as the ethical rights of each and every person exposed to the use of public video surveillance. The major source of controversy, with reference to the use of public video surveillance, emanates from the probability of racial profiling, management as well as the use of video footage, in addition to the possibility of suspicion by association. Opponents argue that video surveillance targets minor communities in society.
They also argue that even though the primary purpose of video surveillance is to guarantee security for all, the concerned parties do not have the proper means through which reproduction in addition to the spread of footage can be controlled (Home Security Camera para, 4). Opponents of public video surveillance argue that the utilization of cameras is an infringement of public privacy due to the fact that cameras are located in hidden places that cannot be detected by individuals. They also argue that there is a high possibility of misusing images captured from public surveillance.
They make it clear that captured images should never be released to the public. They however clarify that such images should only be used for purposes of assisting police in crime investigation (Bryant para, 7). Opponents argue that private companies hired to install and review captured images have a higher tendency of misusing these images as well as releasing them to the public with intent attracting more tenders (Bryant para, 7). According to opponents, it is virtually impossible to devise ways of ensuring protection against all potential abuse of video surveillance captions.
Opponents also assert that the use of public video surveillance in the process of law enforcement is unconstitutional, and that all images captured on surveillance cameras mounted by the police and other security agencies amounts to unreasonable search. They also make it clear that it is very irresponsible of the government to permit private agencies to install video surveillance cameras, giving reasons that these agencies install as many cameras as possible and mount them wherever they like (Anon para, 2).
Opponents argue that public video surveillance should be banned because the violation of public privacy associated with it far outweighs its security benefits (Nieto para, 4). As opponents put it, in spite of the clear-cut laws concerning the right to privacy, searches, seizures, in addition to invasion of privacy, American citizens experience daily violation of their rights by the rampant utilization of video surveillance cameras by law enforcement agencies (Anon para, 3).
They argue that even though public security remains the sole purpose of installation of these cameras, law enforcement agencies fail to show probable compelling interest of the nation before mounting them. They also argue that law enforcement agencies are not getting warrants and do not make clear the type of evidence they expect to get from these cameras (Anon para, 4). Nevertheless, public video surveillance remains one of the most effective means of ensuring public safety.
The presence of cameras for video surveillance in public places, according to Bryant, has a positive impact on increasing the safety of the public (para, 3). Suspicious activities are effectively monitored and detected consistently on real time basis through active surveillance systems. Early detection is a vital strategy of crime prevention (Bryant para, 3). The mere presence of video surveillance cameras plays a vital role of preventing crime from being committed. Potential perpetrators are greatly deterred from committing crime by a mere perception of being monitored through video surveillance cameras.
Surveillance cameras seek to alter the perception of a potential offender by making him believe that if he commits a crime, he will be caught and charged (Caputo p, 2). These cameras increase the perceived risk of capture; an aspect that de-motivates potential offenders. The presence of cameras for video surveillance in public places has a positive impact on increasing the safety of the public. Suspicious activities are monitored and detected consistently on real-time basis through active surveillance systems (Bryant para, 3).
Early detection is a vital strategy of crime prevention. The mere presence of video surveillance cameras plays a vital role of preventing crime from being committed (Monahan p, 5). Bryant states that potential perpetrators are greatly deterred from committing crime by a mere perception of being monitored through video surveillance cameras (para, 4). It is highly unlikely that an individual will commit a crime if he detects that he is being monitored. Information gathered from video surveillance cameras provides vital evidence in police investigations.
Analysis of video footage assists in crime investigations by providing precise information concerning a particular crime (Bryant para, 5). The debate concerning the issue of violation of public privacy through video surveillance is always presented in terms of trade-offs. In spite of the forum, from a specific media broadcast to political speeches to educational publications, trade-offs are always adopted as the basis for any discussion (Senior p, 147). Some of the most common trade-offs as regards the issue of public surveillance are security versus privacy, freedom, or cost.
But, apparently, once the case is framed in these terms, the only remaining thing is to decide whether the public is willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to produce increased national security (Senior p, 148). Critics of video surveillance often question the effectiveness of surveillance systems in producing enhanced national security by bringing in the issue of public privacy. However, it is better that individuals sacrifice their liberty and enjoy the benefits of a safe and secure society, than cling on to their liberty and live in a society characterized by fear of rampant crime.
Opponents of video surveillance claim that this system cannot in any way prevent crimes from happening. Contrary to that, as argued by proponents, video surveillance cameras though they may not prevent crime, they record the evidence which is later used for purposes of prosecution of perpetrators (Caputo p, 2). Petersen states that video surveillance is more effective as compared to eyewitnesses (p, 473). Video surveillance cameras provide the general public with a false sense of protection (Home Security Camera para, 3). These cameras, nevertheless, do not provide any assistance during the time a crime is being committed.
However, the evidence obtained from video recording is vital in identification as well as prosecution of suspects (Home Security Camera para, 5). Even though response may not be immediate, video surveillance enables the responding officer to see what is taking place at an incident before arriving (Wren p, 2). Home Security Camera makes it clear that video surveillance also improves tactical command and control. It delivers a cost effective as well crime deterrence to society. Video surveillance may also prevent vandalism in public places.
Public places have been a target for terrorist over the last few years. Constant bomb threats have been reported in a number of major cities recently. Subways and subway stations are popular joints for muggers and pickpockets. A comprehensive video surveillance system can greatly assist in the reduction of crime and theft opportunities in these areas (Babwin para, 5). Video surveillance systems, according to Babwin, can be helpful in identifying crime, violence, gang activity in addition to other suspicious behaviors thereby playing a major role in preventing them (para, 6).
Advocates argue that the security benefits associated with public video surveillance far outweighs the disadvantage of privacy violation and therefore should not be banned. It is a cost effective mode of ensuring public security because a single security agent monitoring live video can cover a wide area than an officer in the field (Monahan p, 6). In order to eliminate chances of infringing the right to privacy of individuals, it would be important to post signs that clearly inform the public of the presence of surveillance cameras. Contact information should also be provided so that additional information can be requested.
In business premises, security policies as well as procedures should be clearly outlined in writing and distributed to all employees. This goes a long way towards safeguarding the employer against potential claims of infringement of privacy (Bryant para, 9). Conclusion It can therefore be concluded that public video surveillance is an effective means of preventing crime in society, and the security benefits associated with use of public video surveillance system are worth the invasion of privacy. It would be wrong therefore to ban public video surveillance on the basis of violation of privacy.
Even though opponents argue that public video surveillance is an infringement of public privacy due to the fact that cameras are located in hidden places, it would be logical for citizens to sacrifice their rights in order to enjoy the benefits of a safe and secure society. Public video surveillance remains one of the most effective means of ensuring public safety. The presence of cameras for video surveillance in public places has a positive impact on increasing the safety of the public. Potential perpetrators are deterred from committing crimes by the mere perception that they are being monitored.
It delivers a cost effective as well crime deterrence to the society. Even though public video surveillance may not actually prevent crime, they record the evidence, which is later used for purposes of prosecution of perpetrators. In order to eliminate chances of infringing the right to privacy of individuals, it would be important to post signs that clearly inform the public of the presence of surveillance cameras.
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Digital Video Surveillance and Security, ISBN 1856177475: Butterworth- Heinemann, 2010 Home Security Camera, What are some advantages and disadvantages for video surveillance in public places? viewed on July 7, 2010 from http://www. besthomesecuritycamera. com/ video-surveillance/what-are-some-advantages-and-disadvantages-for-video-surveillance-in-public-places Monahan, Torin. Surveillance and security: technological politics and power in everyday life, ISBN 0415953936 CRC Press, 2006 Nieto, Marcus. Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime Prevention Tool? 1997 Viewed on July 7, 2010 from http://www. library. ca. gov/crb/97/05/ Petersen, Julie. Understanding Surveillance Technologies Spy Devices, Privacy, History & Applications, 2nd edn, ISBN 084938320X: CRC Press, 2007
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