[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
This article considers recent policing and regulatory responses to the night-time economy in England and Wales. Drawing upon the findings of a broader two-year qualitative investigation of local and national developments in alcohol policy, it identifies a dramatic acceleration of statutory activity, with 12 new or revised powers, and several more in prospect, introduced by the Labour Government within its first decade in office. Interview data and documentary sources are used to explore the degree to which the introduction of such powers, often accompanied by forceful rhetoric and high profile police action, has translated into a sustained expansion of control. Many of the new powers are spatially directed, as well as being focused upon the actions of distinct individuals or businesses, yet the willingness and capacity to apply powers to offending individuals in comparison to businesses is often variable and asymmetrical. The practice of negotiating order in the night-time economy is riddled with tensions and ambiguities that reflect the ad hoc nature and rapid escalation of the regulatory architecture. Night-time urban security governance is understood as the outcome of subtle organizational and interpersonal power-plays. Social orders, normative schemas and apportionments of blame thus arise as a byproduct of patterned (structural) relations.