I have this crazy idea about the role of the police in modern society; my theory is that the primary job of the police is to stop crime before it happens. To deter crime, if you will, through the medium of being a bit respected and being visible.
What I really don’t think they should be doing is using yet more hidden cameras to catch people doing things that shouldn’t really be crimes. Especially when the cops are just using cameras being driven by wannabe vigilantes.
Cars with spy cameras have taken to the streets of Greater Manchester to catch drivers using mobile phones, eating or doing anything illegal at the wheel.
Cameras on the two Smart cars, brainchild of safety group DriveSafe, photograph potential offenders and pass these on to police.
Fantastic. Some random anti-freedom nutjobs are going to be driving round, and spotting things that the police don’t and passing those things on. Of course, to do this, they’ll be recording hundred of thousands of innocent people obeying all the laws. Which provides people with a nice little get out.
See, to run a private CCTV system, the data protection act says that you have to do a few things. You have to declare that video is being taken. You have to let people know who they have to talk to to about it. And you have to be able to provide people with a means to obtain a copy of their appearances on tape.
I really hope that there’s a good few people in Manchester who use their rights under the Data Protection Act to swamp this illegal data mining. And then, once DriveSafe has been shown to be in violation of said act, I hope they sue it to fuck and stop anyone trying anything like that again.
But that’s just me.
Would you approve of police visibly patrolling every street 24/7? Wouldn’t that be an even better deterrent that the occasional patrol passing by once a week? That would be expensive though, so rather than having to actually physically go down every street every hour, what if we could simulate them just standing there watching?
I don’t know that I’d want cops on every street 24/7, but I’d like their appearance to be unpredictable. As opposed to now, where it’s entirely predictable that you’ll not see a policeman on foot outside of a crime scene or a major town centre.
“my theory is that the primary job of the police is to stop crime before it happens.” – I’m assuming you’ve just phrased this badly. Put like this it would justify all manner of intrusive police controls. For example, I’m sure we could stop plenty of crime if the police had CCTV in our homes, we had to tell them our travels plans… and I’m stopping there because it is actually beginning to sound like current national policy. I’m sure you didn’t mean to grant them that much leeway!
Surely a better basis for policing would be “to investigate and solve crimes that have happened, and where possible attempt to deter the commission of crime.”
Maybe it’s just semantics, but I think put this way it recognises that some crime will always happen, that its prevention and deterence is not a responsibility completely surrendered to the State, and that there are limits to what is acceptable policing.
That was why the next sentence was To deter crime, if you will, through the medium of being a bit respected and being visible, I don’t mean that they should pre-empt it.
My worry is that the police seem to be at a point where they are fully concerned with detecting crime, rather than any form of deterrence. Detecting and solving crime is a always going to be a part of the job, but another part should always be showing that they’re about to stop the crime (or lessen its impact) in the first place.