Proxy policing: Jurisdiction games & legal scale shifting in networked policing gangs & urban space

Abstract: In many western countries the organisation of policing is undergoing significant changes. Among the most important are the shift toward more specialised techniques of urban governance, and the increased pluralisation and networked character of policing. This has led to a situation where urban spaces increasingly are policed through complex networks that not only defy conventional public-private boundaries, but also gives rise to new modes of governance, by bringing together a multiplicity of governmental actors, authorities, perspectives and legal powers.

This presentation argues that one way to advance our understanding of current transformations of urban policing is by developing a more nuanced analysis of the legal mechanism and the everyday legal manoeuvres involved in network policing through space. The presentation uses an ethnography study of networked policing of Danish nightlife to explore how local ‘games of jurisdiction’ (between police, venue owners and bouncers), and strategic ‘scale shifting’ between different legal orders
(criminal law, administrative law and private trespasser acts), have become central to the enforcement of a police-promoted gang suppression strategy, aimed at transforming Danish nightlife into a no-go zone for gang-related individuals. By analysing how private authority and laws against trespassing paradoxically have become integral to police officers’ systematic exclusion of non-offending individuals from privately owned venues in Denmark, the presentation argues that a focus on local jurisdiction games is useful to highlight the at times unpredictable ways private and public legal powers are assembled and reassembled in network policing, giving rise to new forms of spatial governance but also to new challenges to citizens’ rights.

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