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A New Vigilante's Charter? Police Extend Volunteer CCTV Surveillance

The UK has the highest number of CCTV cameras in the world, and its citizens have been increasingly surveilled over the last 30 years. However, it appears that Sussex Police cannot afford paid staff to actually check theirs.

The media's constant obsession with crime figures means that such stories open the door to artificial intelligence being introduced as an option for cash-strapped police forces, apparently more interested in pursuing non-crime hate incidents on social media and suchlike than investigating actual lawbreaking.

Popular former Scotland Yard detective and undercover officer Peter Bleksley has attacked the use of volunteers by Sussex Police as 'dangerous', saying its work should only be carried out by professionally responsible staff. Sussex Police denied the claim that it is dangerous, saying they have 'a number of safeguards in place.'

Mr Bleksley told ITV Meridian that asking volunteers to review CCTV in very serious allegations of crime is 'a step too far'. "I firmly believe that the reviewing of CCTV footage with a view to obtaining potentially crucial evidence is a job which should be done by paid professionals" he said.

Assistant Chief Constable Howard Hodge from Sussex Police says they already have a large number of volunteers working for them: "It also gives people the opportunity to contribute back to their local area." Hodge added that the enquiries that are selected for volunteers would be carefully monitored and supervised: "The volunteers will be vetted and trained and are not here to take on criminal investigations. They are simply tasked with reviewing CCTV. The wealth of CCTV that's out there is brilliant but it can be time consuming."

If it is necessary to increase crime statistics - and thus income into your force to deal with them - then new definitions of crime need to be defined. Thus, we have written descriptions of people being criminalised as hate speech, staring defined as sexual harassment, and traditional mainstream views reframed as 'fascism'. If you need to see more crime in order to pursue a social change agenda, a media industry model or both, then more crimes will duly need to be found.

Using citizens who are emotionally affected by such half-reported, mediated stories of crime in the local press and on social media opens the door to a new form of conscientious corruption. These volunteers will be perfect scapegoats for when investigations go wrong, for when corruption is uncovered or when the relatively tiny numbers of genuine 'bad guys' get away. Volunteer CCTV checkers are a potential perfect storm for the avoidance of responsibility in a law enforcement industry already under intense scrutiny for various forms of institutionalised corruption.

By Sean Bw Parker

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