Marginalised young people, surveillance and public space: a research report

Public spaces Youth and violence Crime Human rights Law enforcement Youth Social issues Australia

This report finds that young people are particularly vulnerable to the abuse of powers in public surveillance practice and to being the target of policing to regulate behaviour in public spaces. 

While there is now a vast body of literature examining surveillance in public places, knowledge of how public area surveillance is perceived and understood by those who are most frequently its targets remains limited. Only two studies to date, both from the UK, have actually investigated the attitudes and perceptions of those targeted, and both these studies focused upon adult offenders. Studies of the operation of CCTV surveillance would suggest however, that young people, particularly those perceived to be 'troublesome' do receive disproportionate attention from surveillance operators. This is intertwined with the wider politics of public space in which marginalized young people are perceived as 'flawed consumers' and frequently find themselves at the sharp end of processes of exclusion which seek to remove those perceived as threats to order from public spaces which are increasingly exclusively configured as spaces of consumption. This study therefore seeks to explore how marginalized young people experience surveillance in public spaces, how they react to it and how they articulate their rights to privacy and information in relation to systems of observation.

This study is a collaborative research project undertaken by the Criminology section of Monash University's School of Political and Social Inquiry and the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria. The project arose out of the recent interest by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in Surveillance in Public Places in Victoria (2009), and preliminary work undertaken by the youthlaw, with the assistance of YACVic, that identified the concerns held by many marginalised young people surrounding these issues.

This research was also presented as a paper at Privacy Victoria's 'Watch this Space: Children, young people and privacy' conference, Crown Promenade Hotel, Melbourne, Friday 21 May 2010.

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