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Policing fantasy city Huey, Laura

Abstract

This study explores the creation and proliferation of urban entertainment destinations i n two Vancouver neighbourhoods - Gastown and Granville Mall - and the effect that these spaces are having on the delivery of urban policing services. This analysis provides a basis for a critique of both the 'broken windows' thesis and consumer culture. Urban entertainment destinations (UEDS) are sites that utilize forms of entertainment as a means of retailing goods and services. Unlike traditional notions of the city, site operators, and increasingly consumers, view these areas solely as spaces of consumption linked to pleasure. However, the marketing of many of these sites as pleasure spots is problematic for site operators because of the pre-existence of various forms of 'urban blight' that are commonly associated with the inner city. In order to reduce, or eliminate, a number of 'quality of life' issues that plague retailers and consumers, such as panhandling, graffiti, squeegees, street youth, and so on, business improvement associations (BIAs), which function roughly as site operators, demand an increased police presence. To augment existing public policing programs in their areas, many BIAs are also contracting private security services to engage in 'broken windows'-style policing in public spaces. Many of these services work cooperatively with public programs. The thesis advances three propositions. First, urban entertainment destinations generate demands for both increased and diversified forms of policing. Second, these demands for policing can be traced to modern consumption patterns and the mass media. Third, these demands can translate into 'policing' practices that are not centered around crime prevention or other strategies commonly associated with policing per se, but rather have more to do with creating and maintaining images of safety and 'risklessness' in sites frequented by consumers.

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