Mental Health and Video Surveillance
Observation by video camera raises countless areas of concern pertaining to privacy issues. The crime reduction rates suggested by proponents of video systems, particularly in terms of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems being placed in public areas to combat criminal behaviour, are not convincing. One of the features of current surveillance practice is that the cameras are often installed in high-rent commercial areas. Crime may be merely pushed from high value commercial areas into low rent residential areas.
Another problem is the use of video surveillance is the tendency of law enforcement officials to single out particular minorities; racial profiling is a technique routinely used by police to pick out people of colour. In a recent UK study, 40% of individuals targeted by the police were picked out for no reason either than their race or ethnicity. Another area of concern relating to video surveillance pertains to women – in a Hull University Study, male camera operators were found to target at least one in ten women for “voyeuristic” reasons. Youth, particularly racial minorities, are often singled out arbitrarily. Questions pertaining to illegal searches and seizures as a result of information obtained by CCTV systems are also worrying.
The links below highlight the problems inherent in video monitoring and the potential such surveillance raises for abuse:
“What’s Wrong With Public Video Surveillance?”
“Say No To Video Surveillance”
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
– Article 12, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and Article 17, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966
Privacy is the interest that individuals have in sustaining a ‘personal space’, free from interference by other people and organisations. Privacy can be broken down into many areas, such as privacy of the person; privacy of personal behaviour; privacy of personal communication; or privacy of personal data. Privacy laws, while significant in that they protect the private affairs of individuals, should not be misused to deny discussion of matters of public concern.
As R. Clarke suggests, privacy is important for a variety of reasons.
– Psychologically: “people need private space. This applies in public as well as behind closed doors and drawn curtains;”
– Sociologically: “people need to be free to behave, and to associate with others, subject to broad social mores, but without the continual threat of being observed;”
– Economically: “people need to be free to innovate. International competition is fierce, so countries with high labour-costs need to be clever if they want to sustain their standard-of-living. And cleverness has to be continually reinvented;”
– Politically: “people need to be free to think, and argue, and act. Surveillance chills behaviour and speech, and threatens democracy.”
– As cited on “Your Lawyer: A User’s Guide” (Lexis-Nexis)
Q: What is expungement?
A: Expungement is often equated to the sealing or destroying of legal records. Each state offers its own definition of expungement, based on different rules and laws. Generally, expungement can be viewed as the process to “remove from general review” the records pertaining to a case. But the records may not completely “disappear” and may still be available to law enforcement.
Forensic DNA testing – technology trumps due process
The decade and a half following the introduction of forensic DNA profiling has seen revolutionary changes in the way crime is investigated and tried in industrialised countries. It has also seen unprecedented erosion of privacy and civil rights with police able to order a wide range of citizens to submit to the collection, testing and databasing of their DNA.