Monday, 11 May 2009
On Friday I spoke at a seminar on the role of policing for securing well-being. My brief concerned the role of policing for securing urban regeneration and more importantly, economic growth.
One of my two fellow speakers was the Chief Constable of the police force which saw on the day before the conviction of the biggest internet- based ring of paedophiles in the UK so far. No surprise that he was buoyed up by having secured the conviction of eight men so far with some 30 charged across the UK. As he said, these were ordinary middle-class and very respectable men. The news coverage went to some detail to list the - thoroughly proper - job titles of each of the men.
I'll be sticking with crime for this post, but it'll get to the (in)visibility challenge I'm posing myself for the time being.
The end of my talk led to a call for (a) acknowledging the necessity of conflict over the use of public spaces - that this is political and not subject to a predefined, however narrow 'consensus'. And (b) to name and make visible all those that get hidden, evicted, arrested when public space is for consumption only - young people, junkies and homeless.
But even more so: that focus on street crime is so reductive in its own sense. And the guy from the centre for business crime was rightly upset that I wouldn't present figures of how much shoplifting is done by junkies. But what I should have done and didn't do was present figures over health and safety offences committed in city centres by businesses; and of all those crimes committed BY businesses.
However, the one thing I got to, and which was thankfully picked up by the audience was the problematic division of public and private. A focus on street crime and the surveillance of street crime - while apparently a response to women's fear of crime leaves out the most dangerous place of women in the world: the home.
If it's on CCTV it's for all to see, right?
Two images and stories have been sticking in my memory all week.
Story 1: the first full face transplant undertaken by American surgeons. Now, several months after the operation, the patient gaver her first interview, accompanied by many photos of how she looked at various points in the past, how she may look now and how she may look in the future. What happened to her face? Her husband shot her in the face. So, after over thirty operations she can take food through her mouth again and hopefully will be able to taste at some point.
Story 2: a young man on steroids got convicted to a life-time sentence. Why? He befriended a TV presenter on facebook (I., I'm telling you: it's dodgy!!); went out with her, when she said no, he beat her up and raped her; after that she hid for a couple of weeks in her flat. Finally, she left the house. He was waiting outside with another man and threw a full canister of sulphuric acid into her face at point blank. She was quoted how she recounted that moment and every single moment since. She too has had more than thirty operations since.
So, what is it to see if you look at one's face?