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1. The implementation of increased levels of surveillance and other intrusions into our privacy are usually justified by promises of increased personal security and protection from criminal activity. Looking at cities of the past and present — are these measures warranted and/or effective? What are the implications for the smooth functioning of the city?

Security is one of the 21st century’s great obsessions. Terrorist attacks on western cities such as New York, London and Madrid in the early years of the century led to a massive increase in security awareness and structures, as governments looked to protect their citizens. Many voices have been raised in protest about this process though, with a frequent challenge to government being that security has been used as an excuse to raise surveillance and monitoring of ordinary citizens. This paper will examine the experience of the London Olympics in 2012, and

London was chosen as Olympic host city for the 2012 version of the Games, and many security systems and structures were introduced. This caused some alarm among Londoners, who feared that the new arrangements would cause unworkable disruption. There were also concerns raised in Parliament that the demands on government funds for security arrangements would prove to be massive (BBC News, 03/09/2012). There was also a huge administrative and organisational mistake by private security provider G4S, which saw the Armed Forces having to step in and provide additional personnel to cover areas of weakness (National Audit Office, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, December 2012) . As well as concerns centred on cost and organisation, though, there were also concerns among residents of the city at the way in which missile silos were situated on apartment blocks. Police officers were also drafted in from across the whole of the UK to support the Metropolitan Police (Daily Telegraph, 06/21/2012). This kind of security operation received much coverage in the UK media, with many voices feeling that it was a restriction of the rights of free movement of Londoners, with media headlines speaking of “Lockdown London.” (Guardian, 03/12/2012).

Any assessment of whether or not these measures must examine how successful the security operation actually was during the games, and whether local people felt as though the measures were justified. One aspect of the security operation which is worth noting is that much of the day to day work of security, such as advising people of which route to take or whether certain items of clothing were allowed, was carried out by ‘Games Makers’ (NAO report, December 2012). These volunteers helped to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere in the city which help to mitigate some of the issues raised by increased security, and was similar to the kind of ‘soft stewarding’ now deployed at English soccer matches, where violence has decreased massively over the last three decades. The volunteers and the soldiers combined to make security much less of an issue, with many foreign visitors stating that they really made the Games a great event. There was a warm response to the friendliness, humour and welcome of the British people, highlighted by the volunteers, soldiers and British crowds, cheering athletes from all countries.” (Review of Impact of London 2012 Games on Perceptions of Britain Overseas, 09/13/2012). This assessment would seem to indicate that the security arrangements worked, especially as no major security incidents were reported during the Games. Indeed, the only really negative aspect of security was the cost and the failure by G4S to provide promised services. London also functioned smoothly as a city, with few if any transport issues which were of significantly greater severity than usual.

Security operations do not always run so smoothly, though, nor do they always have such seemingly benign effects on the lives of citizens. As the first example looked at was from the UK, a fairly typical western democracy, it is worthwhile looking at how another security issue has been approached in that country. Close Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) are now very common in Britain. This approach has been complemented though by an increased crackdown on the use of personal cameras in public places, as well as an increase in the amount of public spaces which are controlled by private security companies. “Many streets and shopping centres that appear to be public spaces are run by private companies with their own rules on photography enforced by security guards in pseudo-police garb.” (The Guardian, 04/18/2010). Research in 2011 also showed that there was at least one CCTV camera per every 32 people in the UK. (The Guardian, 03/02/2011). This view of an over observed society is given great credence by a Scottish government report from 2009, which stated: “Very little evaluative research into the effectiveness of CCTV has been conducted since the year 2000. There is minimal evidence to suggest that CCTV effectively deters crime, and in cases where crime does appear to be deterred, this effect is generally short-lived.” Scotland, as a part of the UK, can be taken as being largely typical of the whole country.

Security operations do not always run so smoothly, though, nor do they always have such seemingly benign effects on the lives of citizens. As the first example looked at was from the UK, a fairly typical western democracy, it is worthwhile looking at how another security issue has been approached in that country. Close Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) are now very common in Britain. This approach has been complemented though by an increased crackdown on the use of personal cameras in public places, as well as an increase in the amount of urban public spaces which are controlled by private security companies. “Many streets and shopping centres that appear to be public spaces are run by private companies with their own rules on photography enforced by security guards in pseudo-police garb.” (The Guardian, 04/18/2010). Research in 2011 also showed that there was at least one CCTV camera per every 32 people in the UK. (The Guardian, 03/02/2011). This view of an over observed society is given great credence by a Scottish government report from 2009, which stated: “Very little evaluative research into the effectiveness of CCTV has been conducted since the year 2000. There is minimal evidence to suggest that CCTV effectively deters crime, and in cases where crime does appear to be deterred, this effect is generally short-lived.” (page 3). Scotland, as a part of the UK, can be taken as being largely typical of the whole country. This report also highlighted that media coverage of the issue of CCTV can distort any effectiveness. The suggestion that the degree of media coverage surrounding a CCTV project may mediate its effectiveness in terms of sustained crime deterrence effects has been made by more than one researcher in attempt to explain the finding that initial deterrence effects often fade with time.” (page 9). This suggests that CCTV is in fact largely a waste of effort, with its short-term usefulness being undermined by negative perceptions from society and limited usefulness in the kind of evidence it produces.

More specific Scottish evidence can be found in data relating to CCTV use in Glasgow, a city often perceived as being plagued by anti-social behaviour. Back in the 1990s, it was found that: “In November 1994, 32 CCTV cameras were installed in the city centre. In the next year, total recorded crime rose by 9%, although this figure included crimes not directly targeted by CCTV (e.g. fraud). The introduction of CCTV saw slight reductions in some types of offending; serious violence, breach of peace, vandalism and motoring offences. Recorded numbers of crimes of dishonesty and indecency increased and the cameras had little effect upon clear-up rates. Public awareness of CCTV was low – 15 months after installation, only 41% of people questioned were aware of the cameras. Surveys revealed that feelings of safety in the city centre did not improve following CCTV installation. Also there was no difference in awareness of CCTV between those who felt safe in the city centre and those who did not.” (Parliamentary office of Science and Technology, ‘Postnote, number 175’, April 2002, page 3) This helps to indicate that CCTV does not contribute to the smooth management of crime in urban areas, but rather seems to complicate matters.

In conclusion, surveillance and security are necessary to the smooth functioning of any urban area. With London during the Olympics, a culture of volunteering and welcome helped to mitigate many of the more negative aspects of the arrangements, and helped to keep the Games and the city of London functioning as smoothly as possible. The large scale introduction of CCTV into the UK, though, especially in Glasgow, has been found to have limited impact, and to contribute to a feeling of being observed all the time. The two situations sum up the dilemma of balance that security operatives face.

References

BBC News, ‘London 2012: Olympic security cost raises concern among MPs’, 03/09/2012, retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17302068, 03/27/2013

Editorial, ‘Personal privacy: This government is too keen to catch us on camera’, The Observer, 04/18/2010, retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/18/cameras-in-public-editorial, 03/27/2013

Stephen Graham, ‘Olympics 2012 security: welcome to lockdown London’, The Guardian, 03/12/2012, retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/12/london-olympics-security-lockdown-london

Paul Lewis, ‘You’re being watched: there’s one CCTV camera for every 32 people in UK’, The Guardian, 03/02/2011, retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/02/cctv-cameras-watching-surveillance, 03/27/2013

Jennifer O’Mahony, ‘London 2012 Olympic security visualised’, Daily Telegraph, 06/21/2012, retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/olympic_infographics_and_data/9345056/London-2012-Olympic-security-visualised.html, 03/27/2013

National Audit Office, ‘The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games: post Games Review. Report by Comptroller and Auditor General’, December 2012, retrieved from: http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1213794es.pdf, 03/27/2013

Visit Britain, ‘Review of Impact of London 2012 Games on Perceptions of Britain Overseas’, September 2012, retrieved from: http://www.visitbritain.org/Images/Review%20of%20the%20London%202012%20Games%20-%20Overseas%20Impact_tcm29-34962.pdf, 03/27/2013

Justice Analytical Services, Police and Community Safety Directorate, Scottish Government, ‘The Effectiveness of Public Space CCTV: A review of recent published evidence regarding the impact of CCTV on crime’, December 2009, retrieved from: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/294462/0090979.pdf, 03/27/2013