Policing and the surveillance of the marginal: Everyday contexts of social control

Megan O'Neill, Bethan Loftus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the surveillance practices of the private security industry have become a central preoccupation of scholarship, the surveillance power of the state has been greatly enhanced through multiple procedures of information gathering to support practices of control and management. In this article, we draw upon two different research projects to examine the surveillance work of the police and other public sector groups working in partnership, as well as the activities of police officers operating covertly. In so doing, we expose the often unintended, but nevertheless invasive and comprehensive power of state agencies to gather details of individuals in the residual working class, within mundane and innocuous policing practices. Our central argument is that these developments have occurred alongside a displacement of social policy through crime control, and represent both an acceleration and intensification of existing state approaches to the surveillance of the problematic individual. This extensive project of targeted surveillance, we contend, also calls into question current claims that the state is moving towards a system of managing deviant populations. © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-454
Number of pages17
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • 'underclass'
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • new penology
  • policing
  • surveillance


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