Surveillance: Why is it Good?

Am I the only one who sees my generation becoming more and more opposed to the idea of surveillance? After conducting research into the surveillance methods used in today’s society, I came to realise how much we’re actually being watched.

Here’s some facts taken from news articles and official documents of the government:

  • “Between April 2015 and March 2016, the police conducted 11,658 stop and searches under PACE Section 1 across the area covered by Thames Valley Police. This was a reduction of 35% from the previous year.” [Stop-Watch.Org]
  • “Thames Valley Police no longer record stop and account. The last available data showed that black people were stopped at a rate of 2.7 of white people in Thames Valley (2008-09).” [Stop-Watch.Org]
  • “There is 1 CCTV camera for every 10 people in the UK.” [DailyMail] That means that the average person passes 400 cameras each day.
  • “It is estimated Britain has 20 per cent of the world’s cameras despite being home to less than one per cent of its population.” [DailyMail]

 

All of these findings came as a shock to me, because I’d never been involved with the police and neither had any of my close friends or family. The community I lived in back home before I came to University hardly had any surveillance, simply because it was a calm town centre with the elderly and families always out and about. In fact, according to a nationwide survey, it was named “One of the Top Towns in the UK to live in”. [GetReading] I’d never experienced the pressure of being watched, until I became a student near London – the capital of Britain. I didn’t know if why I’m being watched more now by the police (and authority in general) is because of the people I socialise with whilst at University, or if it’s because I have now grown up and am generalised as a young adult, to be a member of the public who doesn’t abide with the rules of our society.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I see my generation becoming more and more opposed to the idea of surveillance. Through my interviews, I found that the majority of interviewees were against certain methods of surveillance, but had no solid reason as to why they disliked it – other than the fact they “didn’t like police” or that the methods used to seek out information in our mobile phones were totally against our privacy rights.

The first interview recorded was with a Metropolitan Police Officer who didn’t want to be named. He brought up a lot of valid points as to why surveillance is used and needed within the force, and explained a few methods that they use which gave them a high success level in arrests. The Officer also told me off camera that when he was working with the Met. at Hyde Park on the annual 4/20 event, they were made to stereotype the members of public into a category of looking like a risk, or not. If they were wearing a tracksuit, or were acting a certain way for example, that would be of suspicion to the officers and him. This proved my slight suspicion of their arrest methods, and how they can be selective of who they stop and search.

The next interviewee was a gang member from North London, he wore a balaclava to hide his identity. To sum up the experience I had when conducting this interview, his actions proved violent but reasonable; The interview was quickly cut short when I questioned him ‘inappropriately’, and my cameraman spooked him after walking to close behind him for a shot, he then proceeded to get up and walk off. Anyhow, his opinions of surveillance in a whole were valid and helpful. Although he disliked surveillance, he had no problem with it being there because admittedly, it does help our communities with safety.

Surprisingly, something I didn’t even know, my dad was involved with security in a big company, so I met up with him and conducted a short interview. His points were very useful and brought to question the need for certain methods of surveillance, as well as pointing out that surveillance has never bothered his daily life, so he has no reason to feel oppressed by it.

Overall, after interviewing such a diverse range of people, and branching through many subjects to try and understand the general opinion, and to reveal some facts from solid research to the viewers, I think the average feeling about surveillance is that it does good for our society, and doesn’t actually bother with the lives of the majority who feel strongly against it. The communities of higher class didn’t seem to worry much about surveillance, this was mainly because it hadn’t bothered them at all, so their was no reason to dislike it.

Now that I have this understanding of how the public and working class people feel about surveillance, it has changed my opinion of it. Beforehand I didn’t have many problems with it, but now that I have a wider understanding of the methods used by the government, I feel extra pressure to fit in and not present myself suspiciously. But I do feel a slight sense of relief from the stop and search facts provided by Stop-Watch.Org, where the amount of arrests have gone down, after the amount of CCTV has risen; Meaning the surveillance is proving to help reduce crime rate.

I really enjoyed filming this 20 minute short documentary film, it helped me perfect my documentary type filming and editing skills. The usual videos I produce for YouTube are vlogs or short films so it was a nice change and a challenge for me personally. I also improved my interactive skills, having anxiety has taken away a lot of my self esteem over the years and took a toll on many things, like how I approach even the closest of people to me, or how I present myself and talk to people. I would always stutter, but since filming two short films this year where interviewing the public was a big part of them, I feel more confident when asking follow up questions and having to improvise.

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