The Panopticon Effect: the surveillance of police officers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 2016, 2, (1), pp. 28-39
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Purpose – Police officers from a police force in Australia were interviewed about the types and level of surveillance they experience in their work, with the recognition of technology contributing to an increased level of such. The concept of the Panopticon and the Looking-Glass Self offer useful frameworks for understanding the experiences of those police officers interviewed. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – Based on 14 in-depth unstructured interviews with police officers, this study is an exploratory piece of research. Findings – This study presents findings in which police officers spoke of the surveillance they encounter from the perspective of the police organisation; their own self-surveillance as well as being monitored by other police officers. This paper argues that the Panopticon Effect can negatively impact on individual officers as well as overall police practice. Originality/value – This paper is an exploratory study based on the experiences of rank and file police officers currently in service. The paper considers the surveillance and scrutiny of police officers from within the organisation and recognises the impact of technology.
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