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The mythical properties of police body-worn cameras: A solution in the search of a problem
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Darren Palmer
Over the past few years, Australian police agencies have begun to enthusiastically introduce body-worn cameras on police personnel. These devices are now either implemented or under trial across the country. There is also an emergent ‘surveillance consensus’ (Hempel and Töpfer 2009) concerning their use amongst Australian police. While more detailed empirical examination of information flows that shape this surveillance consensus is warranted, this contribution to the debate seeks to draw from policing scholarship to critically explore the intersections between the rationalizations for body-worn cameras and the broader policing scholarship. More directly, body-worn cameras cannot be understood in narrow instrumental terms, but must be located within the broader literature on governing police and the law and order politics that surrounds many contemporary police and criminal justice reforms (Cox 2015; Gregg and Wilson 2015). I begin with a summary of the introduction of body-worn cameras in Australia. The article then identifies five problems body-worn cameras purportedly address and provides a brief case summary indicating how current ‘privacy protections’ fail to establish real limits to the collection, use, and dissemination of images from body-worn cameras.