Furthermore, are without doubt largely positive. However, this does


Furthermore, the demand for prisons in the UK has risen to
near capacity over the past 3 years and the running costs for staff is steadily
on the rise, which does somewhat demonstrate the advantages of CCTV as a method
of control within a contemporary prison environment. In conclusion it can be
stated that despite the fact that as an RSA CCTV is increasingly being used to
monitor, punish and deny individual liberty to subvert the dominant ideology,
the benefits it brings to the economic state of the government are without
doubt largely positive. However, this does only signify that the focus point of
surveillance is to save or make money for the surveillance industry, and it could
even be argued that Surveillance – like most ‘services’ is a commodity used by
ruling class to control the proletariat. Yet the underling reality of the
problem is that the UK penal system is near breaking point and without an
integrated systematic increase of both officers, funding and CCTV there could
be some form of serious consequences in the near future. 

However, from a postmodernist view it could be argued that
modern culture is so fragmented and diverse that there can be no underlining
truth such as the one stated in the above paragraphs. for example, there are
many factors that can affect the rates of reoffending, such as the type of
inmate and the severity of the crime they committed initially, not just the
ideology enforced by the implications of a constant existence under the
observation of a higher power.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

A Marxist critique of the UK penal system would argue that
what lies under the material reality is a capitalist system of maintaining the
dominant ideology of contemporary society, and CCTV is just another tool used
by the upper class to oppress and subdue the working-class proletariat. The
advantage that CCTV has over prison guards is its inability to communicate with
the inmates, this is because the guards are also of a lower social class and
the best way to maintain the order is to prevent the formation of empathy as it
could create a dangerously large prison sub culture, capable of challenging the
dominant ideology of the state.

In theory this hypothetically would make CCTV the perfect
means of controlling and reforming a prison society as it shares they key
theoretical principles as demonstrated by the panopticon prison design created
by 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The Cuban Built Presidio
Modelo was the only ever example of the panopticon in use as a prison design,
yet it demonstrated the validity of the concept by allowing for the control
around 4000 prisoners with very little major incident, despite the intended
maximum capacity of only 2500 prisoners. However, in order for CCTV to be as
effective as this there needs to be a demonstration of consequences for the
inmates to fear in order to achieve their conformity. This would provide a
reason to be aware of their constant observation and is typically found in the
form of extensions to sentences or a restriction on parole privileges, because
without the fear of consequence there is no physical presence to prevent a
criminal act from occurring.

Foucault explored the ways by which discourses are used as
methods of control in areas such as criminality and the penal system, arguing
that the power to observe categorise and normalise created new forms of knowledge
and control. This theory is still relevant in contemporary society, and the
CCTV camera is the means by which most observation is undertaken, Foucault
stated that the constant implications of a disciplined body to observe an
individual would cause that same individual to create a consciousness of
constant internalised surveillance.

later wrote about the design stating that it marked the transition to a
disciplinary power, with every movement supervised and all events recorded. The
result of this surveillance is acceptance of regulations and docility – a
normalization of sorts, stemming from the threat of discipline.

Even before the invention of the CCTV camera, prison
architects have long since recognised the value in creating an implication that
inmates are under a constant state of observation, as a means to save money on
hiring officers whilst still maintain a degree of security. The Panopticon was
a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the
English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th
century, at the high of England industrial revolution. The Panopticon offered a
powerful and sophisticated internalized coercion, which was achieved through
the constant observation of prisoners, each separated from the other, allowing
no interaction, no communication. This modern structure would allow guards to
continually see inside each cell from their vantage point in a high central
tower, unseen by the prisoners. Constant observation acted as a control

Furthermore, it can be argued that the general effectiveness
of CCTV on prisoners is largely ineffective as a means to make them conform to
the will of the state. Despite the fact that there are between 4 million and
5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in the UK, according to a new report from
the British Security Industry Association (BSIA). The rate at which inmates are
reconvicted after leaving prisons has been gradually increasing, signifying a
long-term ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system which could
potentially be the result of the changing proportions of CCTV cameras and
officers. A view proposed by the Marxist Lois Althusser could suggest that this
is in part because of the mode of address provided by security cameras that is
used to hail prison inmates as subjects of the dominant ideology. The
correlation between an increase in CCTV cameras and the increase in reoffending
rates would suggest that criminals who commit crime after being in prison
demonstrate the manifestations of the surveillance ideology. Which signifies
they incapability to be an effective part of a correctional facility.

Case studies such as the murder of Carl Williams could
represent the problems associated with an over reliance on CCTV as of control
without the appropriate number of disciplined bodies to manage the prison. In
spite of the fact that the murder was committed in full view of a CCTV
surveillance unit the crime wasn’t noticed by officers monitoring the cameras
for a full half hour after the crime was committed after it was reported by to
the staff directly by the actual murderer himself. This signifies issues with
the system of surveillance as the discourse fails to account for individuals
who are so far removed from the rules of mainstream society and have little to
no fear of the repercussions of committing such offences. The cameras cannot
teach an individual the dominant norms of an ideology, they can only enforce it
through direct presence, it’s the police and guard officers who can use a more
intimate mode of address with the prisoners that can begin to reform their
violent behaviour

From a Marxist perspective it’s easy to see how it can be
interpreted that the officers and inmates are having their safety commodified
by the state, even just by searching for research papers on “CCTV in prisons”
as the first few results do not consist of analytical documents detailing the
current usage of CCTV as a means of security in the contemporary prison
environment, but instead a collection of adverts by companies competing with
one another to sell the most units of their cameras to privately run prisons.
Due to the nature of prisons and organisations as methods of reforming
offenders so that they may re-entre society, it is surprising that the safety
of the staff operating this base that supports the superstructure of modern
Britain is not of absolute paramount. Yet instead from the statistics of the
past few decades (in relation to violent acts, drug trafficking and suicides)
it is clear to see that these working-class prison officers and inmates are
being exploited by the upper-class Bourgeoisie in the government. For example,
whist the newspapers and websites can post headlines such as: Prisons in
England and Wales ‘underfunded and full to bursting’ Theresa May can afford to
buy the MP’s votes from the DUP with roughly £1bn of public money. Money that
could have been used to hire more Officers and increase the current inmate to
officer ratio of 1:4.9.

For example, even the spending of £170m on CCTV cameras under
the Crime Reduction Program, assaults on
prison officers have increased by 34% in 2017. In addition to this the reported
number of ‘frontline’ prison officers in English and Welsh prisons has dropped
by 30 per cent, from 27,650 to 19,325. This signifies the government’s preferences
to use the cheaper CCTV over officers, despite the clearly apparent negative
impacts its having on the integrity of prison security.

Despite the UK government actively trying to remove the
police and the prison sectors from the free market liberal economy in order to
make them public services (with exception to a few privately-run UK prisons),
they still have to run their own prison systems in accordance to the key
concepts of capitalism. This is because without profitable gain of capital the
whole government would be making a critical net loss on the provision of the public
judiciary system to the people, which would force them to increase taxes and
other sources of income. This is what has led to a large increase of relatively
cheap CCTV cameras in government Prisons and a gradual reduction in the
comparatively more expensive officers over the past decade.

The government under Margret Thatcher in 1979 began working
to initiate a program that would see the public/private balance shift more
toward the privatisation of companies and industry, this in the late 1980’s
also included the introduction of privately run prisons. However due the nature
of the prisons capacity to enforce the dominant ideology of UK as a repressive
state apparatus (RSA) the government is still heavily influential in the
regulation and running of privately run correctional facilities. For example,
HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons inspects private prisons in the same way as
public-sector prisons and additionally all private prisons have a ‘Controller’
linking them to the National Offender Management Service. So, whilst this means
that the government can save money from the running costs of a prison, it also
means that they still have control in the conversion of offenders into
controlled members of society.

In the 21st century CCTV surveillance systems are
synonymous with correctional facilities and prisons. Cameras can help to
capture and document all incidents that involve, drug use, inmate violence, and
possible misconduct by officers and while there is no doubt that they play an
important role in preventing and mitigating actual criminal activity, their
legitimate capacity to help prevent a crime in progress is a topic of much
debate. For example, the Kilburn Experiment, investigated the effect of CCTV in
a police custody station by conducting interviews with custody officers and
detainees to determine their perceptions regarding the changes that resulted
from the installation of the cameras. The study found that while officers
generally supported the presence of CCTV most believed that the CCTV system did
not improve their physical safety. From this it can be concluded that in order
to create an effective system of control within the prison environment there
needs to be both CCTV and officers working in unison rather than just a case of
one or the other.

CCTV (closed circuit television) plays a crucial role in our
contemporary society, particularly in the judiciary system whereby it serves as
a means of control through the implication of constant observation. However,
it’s actual effectiveness as a repressive state apparatus (RSA) is debateable
when compared to traditional disciplined bodies such as police and guard
officers, which poses the question; Is there CCTV in prisons because it decreases
the risk to security, or is it a cynical attempt by the government to reduce
the running costs of imprisonment in a modern capitalist economy whilst
enforcing a dominant ideology over inmates?


I'm Neil!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out