Plural policing and the safety–security nexus in urban governance
Based on a study of policy frames in urban politics in Sweden, Malmö in particular, this article discusses the safety–security nexus in urban governance. It argues that perceived safety figures as an index of order and integration, and security becomes part and parcel of an expanded cohesion agenda which chain-links criminal justice, immigration control and civic integration. The expanded cohesion agenda in urban governance involves plural urban policing enabled by partnership agreements between the police and local authorities. The article demonstrates how force-based, pre-emptive crime-fighting is intertwined with preventative empowerment programmes; the ‘will to power’ is embedded in ‘the will to empower’. The preferred solution to social problems is extended force-based policing in combination with more police involvement in ‘social’ governance. It is argued that the expanded social cohesion agenda works to ‘criminalize’ specific subpopulations by replacing ‘social’ welfare politics with crime prevention programmes. Under an expanded cohesion agenda, crime prevention has less to do with preventing people from violating the law and more to do with securing the social order. Moreover, it is argued that security politics relates to a broader urban politics aimed at nurturing prosperous diversity considered to benefit the city as a whole, at the cost of problematic difference. In conclusion the article argues that urban security politics lends itself to old welfare state structures, even as responsibility for social crime prevention is devolved ‘downwards’ and distributed across and array of agencies. The social democratic legacy – the revised welfare state – seems to offer favorable conditions for plural policing of minority groups in the city.
Randi Gressgård is professor at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK), and affiliated with the research unit International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER), University of Bergen. Her research interests include migration & minority studies, gender & sexuality studies and urban studies. Among her recent publications are Multicultural Dialogue: Dilemmas, Paradoxes, Conflicts (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010/2012) and ‘The power of (re)attachment in urban strategy: Interrogating the framing of social sustainability in Malmö’ (Environment and Planning A 2014, vol. 46).