8. 1 Aims and objectives of the Unit

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Technologies of Control







University of Leicester




08 Feb 2010


8.1 Aims and objectives of the Unit
The aim of this unit is to provide an overview of recent technology developments in the field of security, with particular emphasis on how the use of the technologies impacts on the lives of individuals. The objectives are:

  • Consider the main research techniques that have been used to evaluate the impact of security technologies.

  • Identify the main drivers that have led to the growth of technological fixes to modern security risks.

  • Examine how the technologies are impacting or could potentially impact on offending behaviour and their effect on society.

  • Review research findings related to the effectiveness of the technologies

8.2 Introduction
Contemporary security policies are characterised by a dramatic focus on high technology like biometrics as a security enabler. The process of technoligization of security i.e. the making of technology the centrepiece of security systems and its perception as an absolute security provider started in the US in the Eighties and has since been expanded to the European Union (EU) and to almost all developed countries.
(Ceyham, 2007: 102)

Basically all technology is made for ordering the world and reproducing it. Modernity has applied these ordering techniques to humans, under the general category of discipline.
(Lianos and Douglas, 2000: 263)

Modern society is characterised by increasing levels of global social mobility and uncertainty relating to levels of risk posed by internal and external security threats. Within this climate security driven by technology is increasingly being used by governments, corporate bodies and individuals to monitor and reduce risk (Lyon, 2004). There has been an acceptance that the criminal justice system is limited in its capacity to control crime which has led to the exploration of other avenues for tackling crime (Zedner, 2003) and this has provided a market for private companies to push forward the growth of technological security innovations. Security technologies are primarily a type of surveillance tool that takes a number of forms and is used to check identity, prevent and deter crimes, intercept communications and they address the ‘demand for knowledge and support, coming from the public and private sectors’ (Savona and Mignone, 2004: 23). The technological developments that have infiltrated security and crime prevention strategies have allowed increased surveillance and recording of the movement and behaviour of people ‘without the need for constant direct observation or containment of those monitored in particular spaces’ (Graham and Wood, 2003).
This unit considers three forms of technologies that have been utilised for the purpose of security namely CCTV, biometrics and RFID (Radio, Frequency, Identification Devices). These technologies have been implemented for the purpose of security across a range of different contexts. CCTV has been widely implemented in the UK as a crime prevention measure in public spaces whilst the major use of biometrics is controlling flows of individuals across borders. RFID has been used extensively to electronically tag and monitor offenders within the criminal justice system (so represents another realm that has been infiltrated by technological solutions). Technologies are used often in conjunction to allow for more effective surveillance and this issue is considered at the end of the unit. A theme running through the unit is how research has investigated the real or potential impact of security technologies and a number of research models are initially outlined in the unit. Academic research has certainly raised concerns regarding how well security technologies work, the levels of discrimination contained with the technologies and the extent that the technologies are infiltrating different aspects of society (Ball and Haggerty, 2005), and these themes form the foundation of the unit.

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