Regulating nightlife, policing race: a critical exploration of public and private policing in a non-metropolitan setting

Wicks, N. 2021. Regulating nightlife, policing race: a critical exploration of public and private policing in a non-metropolitan setting. PhD thesis University of Westminster Social Sciences

TitleRegulating nightlife, policing race: a critical exploration of public and private policing in a non-metropolitan setting
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsWicks, N.
Abstract

This thesis draws attention to the ways in which nightlife is constructed along white, local norms by those who have a responsibility for governing and managing nightlife. Situated within ‘Greenshire’, one of London’s home counties, this thesis draws upon direct observations and interviews with police officers, door staff, venue managers, police and local
authority licensing officers and street pastors. The research contextualises understandings of race within the broader move from race to diversity, as exemplified by the Equality Act
(2010), and supplemented by diversity training programmes and agendas put in place by many police forces across the UK.

This thesis identifies several key findings. The language of diversity, and not race, operates to deny racism in the present and place racism in the past. Narrow understandings of racism as language, defined by what is said rather than what is done, and as a negative character trait, serve to reconstruct the police organisation as not institutionally racist. Despite this, this thesis reveals how stereotypes of the Black ‘gang’ member and the Gypsy and Traveller permeate the police’s attitudes and behaviours. Amongst both the official (‘public’) police and devolved (‘private’) policers of nightlife, understandings of racialized Others are informed by ideas of place and belonging. Black night-time participants from London are confined to attending ‘urban’ nights which are intensively governed and segregated to a small number of nightclubs across the county. Gypsy and Travellers also remain excluded from the main night-time high streets through historical policing practices referred to as ‘no no-ing’. This thesis uncovers how the night is constructed around the ideals of ‘acceptable whiteness’ (Bhopal, 2018, p. 29) in Greenshire, defined by forms of embodiment, practices, behaviours and temporal rhythms which are characteristically white and are deemed appropriate by the public and private police. These ideals inform licensing decisions, the policing of ‘the door’ and dancefloor, as well as the information shared between the public and private police.

This thesis extends the literature on licensing practices (Talbot, 2004, Talbot 2006, Talbot, 2009, Talbot 2011) by drawing attention to how informal investigations into Temporary Event Notices are conducted by police and local authority licensing officers to determine the racialized nature of the night-time event which has been applied for. I reveal how the public police and some licence holders work together to assess the risk of night-time events, audiences and performers through a white lens which problematises Black performers, large Black crowds and Gypsy and Traveller clientele. Finally, this thesis argues that the public and private police draw upon a victim discourse to reframe themselves as the victims of accusations of racism at night, whilst Black and minority ethnic individuals are framed as problematic, illegitimate complainants.

Year2021
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Publication dates
PublishedApr 2021

Related outputs

The production and governance of race in licensing decisions: the initial findings of an ethnographic researcher exploring race at night in ‘Greenshire’
Wicks, N. 2019. The production and governance of race in licensing decisions: the initial findings of an ethnographic researcher exploring race at night in ‘Greenshire’. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal. 17 (1) 8. https://doi.org/10.16997/eslj.233

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