Private Eyes

Private policing and surveillance

Authored by: Ajay Sandhu , Kevin D. Haggerty

Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729352
eBook ISBN: 9781315850986
Adobe ISBN:


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Surveillance is a key attribute of contemporary life (Bennett et al. 2014). To appreciate the prevalence of surveillance we must recognize that it is not confined to draconian practices of social control, but entails any effort to collect information in order to further governmental ambitions. Here ‘governmental’ does not refer exclusively to state activities, but to public, private and individual efforts to advance different agendas. This is a necessarily broad definition, but one that usefully moves us beyond the usual focus on espionage and video cameras. Surveillance includes such things, but also extends to interpersonal scrutiny as well as to an expanding list of new technologies, including DNA databases, drones, metal detectors, satellites, biometrics, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, online dataveillance, facial recognition, GPS tracking, identity cards, and the like. These varied devices and practices are changing how we raise our children, fight wars, deliver healthcare, educate students, socialize, conduct research, secure national borders, and conserve wildlife. Indeed, there are few realms of contemporary life that are not being transformed by new developments in surveillance (Ball et al. 2012).

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