Research Staff

Dr Ajay Sandhu

Position in departmentLaw
Staff positionSenior Research Officer
Emaila.sandhu@essex.ac.uk
Biography

I am a criminologist and a recently hired member of the Human Rights Centre. My academic interests concern questions of surveillance. I ground most of my work on literature in surveillance studies which explore how the spaces in which we live are shaped by observation, monitoring, and data collecton. My work pays special attention to questions of how authorities are monitored and how state agents try to mobilize visual data.

Qualifications

Degrees:

  • PhD Degree in Sociology from University of Alberta (2016)
  • Master of Arts Degree in Socio-Legal Studies from York University (2010)
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law & Society from York University (2009)

Selected Awards, Grants, Scholarships: 

  • Diane Elizabeth Cossins Memorial Graduate Scholarship 2016
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship 2013-2015
  • Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships (2011, 2012, 2015, 2016)
  • Predients Prize of Distinction (2013, 2014)
Current research

The Police on Cameraoffers insights into the surveillance of police officers based on empirical data gathered during a qualitative case study. The findings of The Police on Camera project have been translated into scholarly publications in high-ranking journals such as Theoretical Criminology and Surveillance & Society

Human Rights and Big Data Technology Projectexplores how big data is used for surveillance and tensions between national security, predictive policing, privacy and liberty.

Teaching responsibilities

My teaching skills have developed while instructing The Social Studies of Surveillance course over the previous two years. A link to the latest syllabus can be found at: The Social Studies of Surveillance. My aim in the course is to help students appreciate how surveillance and visibility shape their daily experiences, and address related questions about how various institutions use surveillance to structure social life. I start by exploring sociological theories of surveillance and visibility, and then spend each class exploring a type of surveillance and/or surveillance topic including:

  • Surveillance Cameras and Crime Control
  • Surveillance Cameras and Advertising
  • National Security and Anti-terrorism
  • Dataveillance and Big Data
  • Privacy and Regulation
  • Counter Surveillance and Resistance
  • Social Media and Surveillance
  • Public Shaming and Surveillance
  • Citizen Journalism
  • Social Sorting and Surveillance
  • Race and Surveillance
  • Gender and Surveillance
  • Sexuality and Surveillance
  • Lateral Surveillance
  • Gaming and Surveillance
  • Sports and Surveillance
  • Nature and Surveillanc
Publications

Selected Publications: 

“Camera-Friendly Policing: How the Police Respond to Cameras and Photographers” authored by Ajay Sandhu in Surveillance & Society Journal. 

How do the police respond to cameras and photographers? This paper argues that instead of engaging in counter-surveillance, police officers allow themselves to be recorded and engage in what I call ‘camera-friendly’ policing, which involves efforts to control how they are perceived on camera. Drawing on original and empirical research data, this paper examines the police’s camera-friendly tactics, and considers their implications for the police in an era of mass surveillance.

“Policing on Camera” authored by Ajay Sandhu and Kevin Haggerty in Theoretical Criminology Journal. 

Drawing on empirical research data, this paper outlines the findings of one of the first studies examining how police understand and respond to cameras and photographers. The paper introduces a diversity of police perspectives on issues of police visibility (the camera-shy, habituated, and strategic perspectives), and encourages future research to take into account the ways that police can strategically take advantage of their visibility. 

“The Police’s Crisis of Visibility” authored by Kevin Haggerty and Ajay Sandhu in IEEE Technology and Society.

Today the police’s visible field is shifting, at least in part due to how policing increasingly occurs ‘on camera.’ Resulting video footage transforms what were previously fleeting acts into constantly accessible moments that can be replayed, slowed down and zoomed in on. This article discusses the resulting image-management crisis the police contend with.

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