Furthermore, the demand for prisons in the UK has risen tonear capacity over the past 3 years and the running costs for staff is steadilyon the rise, which does somewhat demonstrate the advantages of CCTV as a methodof control within a contemporary prison environment.
In conclusion it can bestated that despite the fact that as an RSA CCTV is increasingly being used tomonitor, punish and deny individual liberty to subvert the dominant ideology,the benefits it brings to the economic state of the government are withoutdoubt largely positive. However, this does only signify that the focus point ofsurveillance is to save or make money for the surveillance industry, and it couldeven be argued that Surveillance – like most ‘services’ is a commodity used byruling class to control the proletariat. Yet the underling reality of theproblem is that the UK penal system is near breaking point and without anintegrated systematic increase of both officers, funding and CCTV there couldbe some form of serious consequences in the near future. However, from a postmodernist view it could be argued thatmodern culture is so fragmented and diverse that there can be no underliningtruth such as the one stated in the above paragraphs.
for example, there aremany factors that can affect the rates of reoffending, such as the type ofinmate and the severity of the crime they committed initially, not just theideology enforced by the implications of a constant existence under theobservation of a higher power. A Marxist critique of the UK penal system would argue thatwhat lies under the material reality is a capitalist system of maintaining thedominant ideology of contemporary society, and CCTV is just another tool usedby the upper class to oppress and subdue the working-class proletariat. Theadvantage that CCTV has over prison guards is its inability to communicate withthe inmates, this is because the guards are also of a lower social class andthe best way to maintain the order is to prevent the formation of empathy as itcould create a dangerously large prison sub culture, capable of challenging thedominant ideology of the state.
In theory this hypothetically would make CCTV the perfectmeans of controlling and reforming a prison society as it shares they keytheoretical principles as demonstrated by the panopticon prison design createdby 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The Cuban Built PresidioModelo 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 controlaround 4000 prisoners with very little major incident, despite the intendedmaximum capacity of only 2500 prisoners. However, in order for CCTV to be aseffective as this there needs to be a demonstration of consequences for theinmates to fear in order to achieve their conformity. This would provide areason to be aware of their constant observation and is typically found in theform of extensions to sentences or a restriction on parole privileges, becausewithout the fear of consequence there is no physical presence to prevent acriminal act from occurring.
Foucault explored the ways by which discourses are used asmethods of control in areas such as criminality and the penal system, arguingthat the power to observe categorise and normalise created new forms of knowledgeand control. This theory is still relevant in contemporary society, and theCCTV camera is the means by which most observation is undertaken, Foucaultstated that the constant implications of a disciplined body to observe anindividual would cause that same individual to create a consciousness ofconstant internalised surveillance.Foucaultlater wrote about the design stating that it marked the transition to adisciplinary power, with every movement supervised and all events recorded.
Theresult of this surveillance is acceptance of regulations and docility – anormalization of sorts, stemming from the threat of discipline.Even before the invention of the CCTV camera, prisonarchitects have long since recognised the value in creating an implication thatinmates are under a constant state of observation, as a means to save money onhiring officers whilst still maintain a degree of security. The Panopticon wasa type of institutional building and a system of control designed by theEnglish philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18thcentury, at the high of England industrial revolution. The Panopticon offered apowerful and sophisticated internalized coercion, which was achieved throughthe constant observation of prisoners, each separated from the other, allowingno interaction, no communication. This modern structure would allow guards tocontinually see inside each cell from their vantage point in a high centraltower, unseen by the prisoners. Constant observation acted as a controlmechanism. Furthermore, it can be argued that the general effectivenessof CCTV on prisoners is largely ineffective as a means to make them conform tothe will of the state.
Despite the fact that there are between 4 million and5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in the UK, according to a new report fromthe British Security Industry Association (BSIA). The rate at which inmates arereconvicted after leaving prisons has been gradually increasing, signifying along-term ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system which couldpotentially be the result of the changing proportions of CCTV cameras andofficers.
A view proposed by the Marxist Lois Althusser could suggest that thisis in part because of the mode of address provided by security cameras that isused to hail prison inmates as subjects of the dominant ideology. Thecorrelation between an increase in CCTV cameras and the increase in reoffendingrates would suggest that criminals who commit crime after being in prisondemonstrate the manifestations of the surveillance ideology. Which signifiesthey incapability to be an effective part of a correctional facility.Case studies such as the murder of Carl Williams couldrepresent the problems associated with an over reliance on CCTV as of controlwithout the appropriate number of disciplined bodies to manage the prison.
Inspite of the fact that the murder was committed in full view of a CCTVsurveillance unit the crime wasn’t noticed by officers monitoring the camerasfor a full half hour after the crime was committed after it was reported by tothe staff directly by the actual murderer himself. This signifies issues withthe system of surveillance as the discourse fails to account for individualswho are so far removed from the rules of mainstream society and have little tono fear of the repercussions of committing such offences. The cameras cannotteach an individual the dominant norms of an ideology, they can only enforce itthrough direct presence, it’s the police and guard officers who can use a moreintimate mode of address with the prisoners that can begin to reform theirviolent behaviour From a Marxist perspective it’s easy to see how it can beinterpreted that the officers and inmates are having their safety commodifiedby 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 thecurrent usage of CCTV as a means of security in the contemporary prisonenvironment, but instead a collection of adverts by companies competing withone another to sell the most units of their cameras to privately run prisons.Due to the nature of prisons and organisations as methods of reformingoffenders so that they may re-entre society, it is surprising that the safetyof the staff operating this base that supports the superstructure of modernBritain is not of absolute paramount. Yet instead from the statistics of thepast few decades (in relation to violent acts, drug trafficking and suicides)it is clear to see that these working-class prison officers and inmates arebeing exploited by the upper-class Bourgeoisie in the government.
For example,whist the newspapers and websites can post headlines such as: Prisons inEngland and Wales ‘underfunded and full to bursting’ Theresa May can afford tobuy the MP’s votes from the DUP with roughly £1bn of public money. Money thatcould have been used to hire more Officers and increase the current inmate toofficer ratio of 1:4.9.For example, even the spending of £170m on CCTV cameras underthe Crime Reduction Program, assaults onprison officers have increased by 34% in 2017. In addition to this the reportednumber of ‘frontline’ prison officers in English and Welsh prisons has droppedby 30 per cent, from 27,650 to 19,325.
This signifies the government’s preferencesto use the cheaper CCTV over officers, despite the clearly apparent negativeimpacts its having on the integrity of prison security. Despite the UK government actively trying to remove thepolice and the prison sectors from the free market liberal economy in order tomake 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 keyconcepts of capitalism. This is because without profitable gain of capital thewhole government would be making a critical net loss on the provision of the publicjudiciary system to the people, which would force them to increase taxes andother sources of income.
This is what has led to a large increase of relativelycheap CCTV cameras in government Prisons and a gradual reduction in thecomparatively more expensive officers over the past decade.The government under Margret Thatcher in 1979 began workingto initiate a program that would see the public/private balance shift moretoward the privatisation of companies and industry, this in the late 1980’salso included the introduction of privately run prisons. However due the natureof the prisons capacity to enforce the dominant ideology of UK as a repressivestate apparatus (RSA) the government is still heavily influential in theregulation and running of privately run correctional facilities. For example,HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons inspects private prisons in the same way aspublic-sector prisons and additionally all private prisons have a ‘Controller’linking them to the National Offender Management Service. So, whilst this meansthat the government can save money from the running costs of a prison, it alsomeans that they still have control in the conversion of offenders intocontrolled members of society. In the 21st century CCTV surveillance systems aresynonymous with correctional facilities and prisons.
Cameras can help tocapture and document all incidents that involve, drug use, inmate violence, andpossible misconduct by officers and while there is no doubt that they play animportant role in preventing and mitigating actual criminal activity, theirlegitimate capacity to help prevent a crime in progress is a topic of muchdebate. For example, the Kilburn Experiment, investigated the effect of CCTV ina police custody station by conducting interviews with custody officers anddetainees to determine their perceptions regarding the changes that resultedfrom the installation of the cameras. The study found that while officersgenerally supported the presence of CCTV most believed that the CCTV system didnot improve their physical safety. From this it can be concluded that in orderto create an effective system of control within the prison environment thereneeds to be both CCTV and officers working in unison rather than just a case ofone or the other.
CCTV (closed circuit television) plays a crucial role in ourcontemporary society, particularly in the judiciary system whereby it serves asa means of control through the implication of constant observation. However,it’s actual effectiveness as a repressive state apparatus (RSA) is debateablewhen compared to traditional disciplined bodies such as police and guardofficers, which poses the question; Is there CCTV in prisons because it decreasesthe risk to security, or is it a cynical attempt by the government to reducethe running costs of imprisonment in a modern capitalist economy whilstenforcing a dominant ideology over inmates?