Merseyside, a United Kingdom county based on Liverpool metropolitan area has introduced custom ID badges integrated cameras for small shop attendants to prevent hate crime. The program has been piloted by metropolitan police for couple of months and recording has already been used in court.
United Kingdom has long history of colonization of other nations. This is one of many contributing factors towards its ethnic and cultural mixture. Do you recall Mrs Doubtfire blockbuster family comedy? Robin Williams portraying an elderly English lady in his TV show asks his co host monkey if he knows what language they speak in England. When monkey replies Pakistani, Mrs Doubtfire confirms ‘Yes, in most stores, they do’. For someone who lives or visited United Kingdom this is exactly the impression. Most small convenience stores in metropolitan areas tend to be owned and ran by Middle East countries immigrants or their children. It’s not uncommon for some country immigrants to run certain kind of businesses, especially in large cities. Same happens in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. Ethnic tensions always exist in every multi cultural society yet they seem to be under control in times of good prosperity. Once economy turns bad and starts excluding people from stable income tensions tend to surface. In England a bias against Middle East immigrants was additionally boosted by September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and London public transportation bombing executed by Al-Qaida in 2005. Since 2008 crisis start hate crime on racial background has become a nightmare for English peacekeepers and search preventive measures remains in focus.
Internet hating was surprisingly found a great research place for both scientist trying to understand where is it coming from and government agencies finding measures to address it. Discrimination bias depends on populism and its false pretense, for example we find a person belonging to a group who committed a crime and then we start saying that all members of this group are criminals regardless of factual state. Supporting such false statement openly proves low intellectual level and risk of making fool of oneself therefore most hate expressions happen in anonymous situations. Internet is one of the most anonymous places and hate level is very high there. Many experiments prove that once anonymity is gone and all discussion is brought to identified level hate vanishes but also the drive to exchange views seems to reduce its grade.
Shopping at a small store is a pretty anonymous situation and no wonder abusive language towards foreign shop attendants has become a notorious crime across the pond. Fortunately for the victims and the police technology came to help. Imaging technologies progress have gone so far that wearing a camera would not cause moving discomfort. Just to have an idea how for we got it’s worth to mention that during Apollo space program in late sixties and seventies astronauts wore large handheld cameras attached to their suits so we could see them walking on the Moon. Belly mounted cameras were so big that Alan Sheppard golf swing on the moon had to be performed with one hand since the camera prevented both hands club grip. Now we have good quality cameras so small they easily fit into very slim smartphones and laptop screen lids. Also the price of video equipment made it much more affordable.
The Beatles city police idea is quite simple. They’ve ordered ID badge holders which looks like a frame and has a built in camera in the top. It also says ‘Recording in Progress’ in vivid yellow background. This way it serves 2 functions at the same time. Deters potential abusers from using offensive language and collects court data for those who can’t hold themselves from committing a hate crime. Stores already have CCTV cameras for shoplifting prevention, those can’t however produce sharp enough material to be useful by the prosecution.
Police commissioner has been awarded funds to acquire 48 camera systems which would be supplied to shopkeepers who have been subjects to the attacks. Other towns police departments would be closely watching how this project goes and learn their approach in hate crime prevention and prosecution.