Police are using the latest scanning technology to target drivers with past drug convictions in addition to the regular scanning attributes such as licence checks and arrest warrants. The additional drug and conviction screening, although may deter some from offending, appears to be of a discriminatory nature. A portion of society has already been punished for their crimes but may for a long time, be a target of the police service in a bid to target active users and criminals.
Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that police should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. Targeting previous offenders is also a breach of their privacy, despite the actions of officers covered by legislation. On the other hand, those who abide by the law and road rules, have no fears that they will be pulled over. Although citizens are expected to respect the law, they expect to receive respect for the dignity of a human being and protection of their human rights.
Perhaps a positive side is that traffic police officers have been criticised for racial profiling but now they have the technology and concrete reasons to pull someone over. In June this year, a Victorian magistrate ruled that police “did not have an unfettered right to pull over motorists to check licences and registrations and for outstanding warrants” (Chadwick, 2013: n.p). This came after police were under fire for targeting African drivers.
It appears that this technological initiative will be successful, apart from breaching the rights of a small minority of the community who have or are breaking the law. There are more incentives for Australian police to utilise this in a bid to stem rising drug and crime, which often go hand in hand and appears to be very challenging to target. Whether or not this breaches international conventions is another thing but the benefits outweigh this for the common good of society.
References Chadwick, V. (2013). Call to prevent police racial profiling. Retrieved from The Age Website: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/call-to-prevent-police-racial-profiling-20130627-2p04o.html
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)