CCTV surveillance systems can help coordinate responses to homelessness, new research suggests
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Although CCTV surveillance systems are typically associated to security and law-enforcement, they can be used for a variety of other purposes, including helping people affected by homelessness.
According to a recent study conducted in the Australian city of Cairns, where homelessness occurs at twice the national rate, and supported by the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works and The Australian Research Council, CCTV surveillance systems can be used to coordinate genuinely supportive responses by local social services.
Researchers have linked surveillance of the homeless to efforts by public and other agencies to ensure city centres are attractive spaces for consumers, tourists and private investors. However, other researchers point out that responses to homelessness are diverse and multifaceted. Genuine attempts to help the homeless often exist alongside exclusionary practices. Despite this, little research has been done on how surveillance practices may interface with these more supportive initiatives.
Acting on these concerns, local police, council and social service personnel work together to manage the behaviour of people sleeping rough. They do this either through enforcement – move-ons, seizing alcohol, arrest, and so one – or through efforts to remove the homeless from public view, such as taking them to the police watch house or local sobering-up facility.
CCTV Surveillance systems play a key role in coordinating these activities. Information on the location and behaviour of homeless people is gleaned from council-operated CCTV cameras and foot patrols and passed on to police and other agencies.
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