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The paramilitarisation of policing—Stephen Graham on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed

Tamar Shlaim 6 January 2012

Stephen Graham appeared on Radio 4's Thinking Allowed to discuss Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism with Laurie Taylor and Melissa Butcher of the Open University. 

Graham explains how military ideas of controlling space, honed in war zone cities like Baghdad, are being repackaged and sold to civilian police in Western cities. Concepts like 'smart' CCTV which attempts to identify suspicious behaviours in urban crowds, & the creation of fortified enclaves in certain areas, modelled on the Iraqi Green Zone, and the use of surveillance drones are all being imported back to Western cities after being developed in foreign warzones.  

Graham views these new methods as more Minority Report than Big Brother - new CCTV technologies are designed to attempt to prempt terrorist attacks by scanning crowds, learning from previous incidents and trying to predict  suspicious activity through monitoring behaviour. 

The discussion goes on to consider the ways these new security methods and terrorist threats can both enable and encourage the shutting down of public spaces of democracy and dissent in new and brutal ways, such as in the 'paramilitarised' responses to Occupy protests. 

Visit BBC iPlayer to listen to the programme (available until Wednesday 11th January)

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