Published date: 
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Security and Risk Technologies in Criminal Justice: A Critical Discussion


Speakers Associate Professors Stacey Hannem and Christopher Schneider with seminar chair Professor Janet Chan at UNSW Law

In a recent seminar jointly sponsored by the UNSW Centre for Crime, Law and Justice and the Allens Hub for Technology, Law & Innovation, Associate Professors Stacey Hannem and Christopher J Schneider from Canada discussed their chapters in a new book Security and Risk Technologies in Criminal Justice: Critical Perspectives, published by Canadian Scholars’ Press in 2019.

Prof Schneider’s chapter, “Policing and Media: Social Media as Risk Media,” explores risk management in the area of policing and investigates the process by which social media products spotlighted in news media become the latest type of risk media for police. At the seminar he discussed three basic themes of risks attributed to social media: (1) threats to order; (2) organisational threats to police; and (3) individual threats to police.

Prof Hannem’s chapter, “The Ion Mobility Spectrometry Device and Risk Management in Canadian Federal Correctional Institutions,” uses the example of ion scanners that detect drugs in prison to illustrate the “theatre of security,” in which the visible enactment of risk management provides an inflated or false sense of security. At the seminar she argued that ion scan technology legitimises the symbolic enactment of stigma when visiting family members of prisoners become the targets of suspicion.

The book consists of ten chapters, written by more than a dozen scholars, including the two speakers, Pat O’Malley, Carrie Sanders, Aaron Doyle, and UNSW Law’s Janet Chan and Lyria Bennett Moses. In his foreword to the volume, Kevin Haggerty notes that “this collection does an excellent job of drawing critical attention to a range of new risk technologies and processes of prospective security, often raising questions about the extent to which these phenomena perform as advertised”.