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Justice, Law and CCTV

09 Sep

There was a song titled “Watching the Detectives”.

These days, it would have to be reworked to be “Watching the Crimes”.

Over the last decade I have seen less and less pro-active law enforcement. It all seems to be geared to this fascination the world is developing with watching an event. The sensationalist reporting that drives sales seems to have bled across to law enforcement. It’s not so much about preventing the crimes as showing you just how dangerous it is out there. “Be scared, because this is what could happen to you.”

The fact that there has been little true increase in grievious crimes such as paedophilia is overlooked. They are reported more, they attract more attention. They inspire more fear. Trying to get anywhere around here during ‘school run’ times is a nightmare of stop/go driving and dodging sudden parking at no notice and with no indication of it being about to occur.

Symptoms and fear. That is what we are shown and what is ‘cured’. Underlying causes, especially those that could be unpopular to the voting public are ignored. Far better to demonise something where there the capture rate is guaranteed to be high, such as motorists going faster than the speed limits. Note I say speed limits, not faster than is safe for the road conditions.

So now we come to that new bastion of law enforcement, the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV). I have highlighted before that these do not keep you safe. They just allow the powers-that-watch a chance to catch those who preyed upon you. That is not safety. It is an illusion of safety that we happily subscribe to.

The latest wonderful example of this is the riots across the UK. Over fifteen hundred people have been given some incredibly stiff sentences for what in the majority of cases amounts to public disorder, vandalism and theft. Disproportionate application of law to reassure the scared public that those in power were not caught out or that they chose to ignore early warnings. The sentences handed out do not help the shopkeeper picking the remains of his storefront out of the gutter. Preventing the riots would have.

I despair at the way that society is going and while I have stated before that I do not believe there is a grand conspiracy, I do believe that those at the top, insulated from the people ‘on the streets’ have completely lost contact with the daily realities most of us face. What is more worrying is that they still believe in the relevance of their decisions, as demonstrated in the application of reaction-driven legislation to address the tiniest embarrassments without recourse to informed investigation, analysis and consultation.

Justice is a simple thing. Those who do wrong must be punished. In a society where there are increasing numbers of easy targets, the justice needs to be even and the penalties harsh because prevention is the only option. Overcrowded prisons are training camps for the criminal arts and those who could have been saved by a viable deterrent are lost to the realisation that there are entire heirarchies on the edge of the law where they could overcome the percieved, inflicted or genuine limitations of their existence within the law.

Law is a behemoth in the classic dinosaur mold, too big to be flexible or dynamically responsive, easily confused or outmanouevred and prone to be diverted into striking the wrong target. The number of cases where the original victim of the crime becomes a victim of the criminal’s access to clever legal rhetoric from an experienced lawyer are just too many.

CCTV is a device of law, not justice. Bear this in mind. Anything that does not stop the crime is not a servant of justice. The fact that the crime is commited should be regarded as heinous, a failure of preventative measures. It should not be greeted with a bland “we can probably identify him/her from the CCTV footage”. I would also query the effectiveness of these cameras. What is the attributed prosecution rate gained by the use of CCTV footage? I would place money on the fact that unless there are easy targets such as people caught in the mob mentality of rioting or speeding on a deserted road at 3AM, they are actually not worth the money spent unless actively monitored all the time.

The town you walk through under the watchful gaze of these supposedly protective devices may as well be the open road where you travel under the gaze of traffic cameras, speed cameras et al. The only people that they have a real chance of catching are the general public. The truly criminal mind can subvert, confuse or avoid these devices at will.

You may note that I have changed the roles usually attributed here. Law was meant to ensure that justice was obtained. Now it is something in it’s own right that may or may not result in the delivery of justice. This is why I choose to deviate from the traditional usages.

Of course, this diatribe has to have a point. 🙂 After this much waffle the least I can do is try to get somewhere;

Justice, while percieved to be healthy and applied, is actually an ailing institution that is frequently subverted by it’s former colleague.

Law is in robust health and looks to sadly get fatter. Litigation and like symptoms have slid over from the USA and common sense has taken a back seat to greed. Justice cries while law waddles off to the bank past those it has failed and probably made a profit from as well.

CCTV is reactive policing and at the very least should be renamed. The use of the word ‘close’ implies a sense of security. Change it to ‘remote’ and possibly the lesson would sink in. The night that the criminal has you up against the wall, knife to your throat with robbery as the best outcome, unless you are very, very lucky, all that your government installed safety placebo will do is watch. It will not save you, it will not deter the criminal. In some cases, the criminal may use CCTV to glorify his or her work.

To use another old adage “There is no Justice. There is Just Us”. Inform yourself. Protect yourself. Be prepared to lie to the authorities over what you did to the burglar in your house. Because right now, justice and law can be mutually opposing forces. It makes me sad but until things change, I will deliver justice to those who come against me and mine, which includes those who would use the law to their advantage to subvert justice.

No vigilantism here, just common sense application of the rules of defence; if you come at me or those I care for with a threat or clever litigation then I will attempt to put you down as decisively and as fast as I can. I do not want to risk injury or death in applying minimum force or worrying that you will sue me for the damage I do to you. I do not want to pay thousands in court costs defending against baseless, implied charges. I will treat you as a rabid black belt or vindictive lunatic where my only chance is the first hit, be it physically or via resorting to non-impact methods such as peer pressure, public opinion or even legal means (fighting fire with a fire-break) as a last resort.

Whatever I use for that first strike, to protect those I care about or to save me, I will make it count.

 

 

 

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2 Comments

Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

2 responses to “Justice, Law and CCTV

  1. Anthony

    September 10, 2011 at 01:17

    On the whole, I agree with this article but I feel that you are starting to use journalistic sleight of hand in places to make your point.

    For instance, you wrote “The use of the word ‘close’ implies a sense of security..” In fact the word “close” is not used, although the spoken news services do tend to mispronounce ‘closed-circuit’ as ‘close-circuit’ and do so for the same knee-jerk reaction I feel that you are trying to achieve.

    I do agree that the Law is starting to become a bloated behemoth, full of inconsistency and contradiction, but without it society would simply become a mob of monkeys with clubs, led by a mob of uneducated fools all baying for blood but not knowing the facts. My well-used historical example of that was the running out of a paediatrician in Gwent by a mob of that city’s finest intelligentsia because her job title had the syllable ‘paed’ in it so she must have been a paedophile (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/aug/30/childprotection.society) or of the mobs in Portsmouth targeting innocent people, incorrectly named and shamed by the now defunct and scurrilous News of the World. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2000/aug/05/leadersandreply.mainsection?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487)

    The trouble with the Law, and I think we agree on this, is that it is slowly but surely being manipulated by parliament, in the UK, to disenfranchise the electorate whilst at the same time keeping them deluded that they are safe and that the politicians have their ( the electorate’s) best interests at heart. Now, many would argue that the Law should reflect what Society wants but the flaw in that argument is that Society is a fickle beast; what it wants one minute, it rejects the next; no, I would rather have laws made by people looking down from ‘ivory towers’ rather than by the whims of the mob.

    Your other ‘sleight of hand’ was the comment was “No vigilantism here,”, well, actually, you are incorrect, imho.

    “A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker.” OED, second edition, revised, 2005. There is an interesting article regarding this on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilantism

    I look forward to your spirited rejoinder.

     
  2. thesilentjudge

    September 10, 2011 at 16:29

    ‘Journalistic sleight of hand’. Nice. Ouch. Mea culpa. Although I will stand by the fact it was not intentional or done consciously. This blog is an outlet for my opinions. To read anything further is complimentary but ultimately inaccurate. However, it is a valid criticism. From this I will bear in mind the inevitable tendency to shade in my favour rather than just relate observations in future.

    I will disagree with your accusation of attempting to get a knee-jerk reaction with my use of ‘close’ instead of ‘closed’. It is the inference of proximity from the historical usage of CCTV for confined spaces that I was aiming for. Poorly explained on my part is far more likely. A device with a range of significant fractions of a mile is hardly close, although it is on a closed-circuit. I shall stand by my opinion that calling them something that emphasised their lack of immediacy may have produced different perceptions of them and thus their impact and acceptance in society.

    My personal view of vigilantism was flawed. I know my self to be an atavist, a throwback with a strong belief in personal justice that is wholly unsuited for modern society. I am interested that the definition states ‘legally or illegally punishes’. I guess the former is the personal use of aforementioned peer pressure, publicity or legal means; while the latter is resorting to violence or methods such as having the perpetrator framed for another crime. If such is the definition, then I will have to declare that I will be a vigilante for personal justice in defence of me or mine, but refuse to take part in mob action against any supposed criminal unless in my opinion, drawn from personal investigation, the person is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt and the law is unable to bring them to justice; and that they or their activities present a real threat to me or mine. Which in and of itself is quite an admission. My antiquated view of vigilante being a selfishly controlled mob mind directed for the good of an individual within a community is revealed as an embarrassingly Hollywood take on the realities of the situation.

     

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