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Drone Policing A realist case study of police technological innovation

Coliandris, Michael 2021. Drone Policing A realist case study of police technological innovation. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Recent years have witnessed a rapid expansion in the use of unmanned aerial systems (commonly referred to as drones) amongst constabularies across England and Wales. New and emerging potentials have been lauded amongst drone advocates, pointing to the many ways in which drones can augment and assist in a range of policing functions. These include, but are not limited to, crime scene investigations, public events monitoring, operational planning, search-and-rescue, and intelligence/evidence gathering. Critical social science has tended toward registering drone technology in terms of panoptic power; ‘always on’ surveillance which jeopardises privacy and civil liberties within domestic liberal democratic societies. An alternative register of drone policing is advanced in this thesis which challenges such unilateral accounts. Drone policing is instead understood as a socio-technical system which permits analysis of the ways in which drones shape and are shaped by policing. This realist conception compels empirical investigation into drone policing in action (as opposed to in thought). This case study exposes the human relations which enable and constrain drone policing, including localised regulation and parochialism, human error, technical malfunctions, and evangelism and resistance amongst police officers. These factors run alongside the conditions of the natural world – such as adverse weather and ferromagnetic interference – as well as the material world – as the UK grapples with widespread drone proliferation – which police drones are deployed into. Consequently, drone policing is reconceptualised in line with the context-mechanism-outcome pattern configurations symbolic of realist evaluations of policing programmes; the mechanisms which produce drone policing relate to diverse contexts. This thesis suggests that empirical study of drone policing in action can problematise hitherto teleological accounts of drone policing and generate the conceptual armature for future research and speculation about police relations with emergent technology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 May 2022
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2023 02:00

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