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1: Policing and surveillance

In this session we will look at policing or surveillance as they arise generally, and not in relation to any specific criminal offence (the next 2 sessions will deal more specifically with the investigation and police powers). The police is a body empowered by the state to enforce the law and preserve order, something which they occasionally do by resorting to force. Police forces are relatively recent creations, the earliest, in Paris, dating back to the mid-17th Century. Over time, policing has evolved from relying on volunteer constables and "watchmen" towards professional, highly specialized forces. Because of the use of force by the police, it is a very sensitive area of state power from the point of view of rights. In this session, we will focus in particular on policing generally, looking at stopping powers, the practice of carding, efforts at shifting policing towards communities, and the rise of predictive policing as part of the surveillance state. The goal of the session will be to assess the degree to which policing as such might raise concerns for human rights. Under the Charter several rights are potentially implicated including the right to be free from arbitrary detention (section 9) or the right to privacy. At the same time, the Supreme Court must weigh the needs of policing against the expectation of freedom of Canadians. Efforts have been made into making policing closer to the community or more preventive, but in the course of such efforts, a greater intrusiveness may be justified. In addition, policing is a particularly sensitive area when it comes to racial, particularly structural discrimination.

Class Preparation:

Case study 1: stopping powers
Case study 2: the practice of carding:
Case study 3: community policing

Case study 4: surveillance and predictive policing: