Lights, camera, provocation? Exploring experiences of surveillance in the policing of Scottish football



Hamilton-Smith N, McBride M & Atkinson C (2021) Lights, camera, provocation? Exploring experiences of surveillance in the policing of Scottish football. Policing and Society, 31 (2), pp. 179-194.

Based primarily on research into the policing of football fans in Scotland following the implementation of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (Scotland) Act 2012 this paper examines the interplay of police techniques and surveillance technologies in the policing of Scottish football. There has been relatively little academic attention directed towards the Act, so the question of why and how this flagship legislation generated such intense opposition that it was repealed within six years of its introduction demands investigation. This paper explores the implementation of the Act from the perspectives of football fans, criminal justice agencies, and representatives of football clubs, with a specific focus on the impact of police surveillance practices. The research uncovered strong perceptions that such practices were considered intimidatory, which may have weakened the perceived legitimacy of the Act. This paper poses a challenge to simple readings of evidence in terms of the claimed benefits of particular forms of surveillance, arguing that the use of technologies such as powerful hand-held cameras and body worn video (BWV) has had a detrimental impact on police-fan relationships, interactions and dialogue.

Surveillance; policing football; criminalisation; policing offensiveness

Policing and Society: Volume 31, Issue 2

FundersScottish Government
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online13/12/2019
Date accepted by journal19/11/2019
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Dr Niall Hamilton-Smith

Dr Niall Hamilton-Smith

Associate Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

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