Nightlife is a place of both real and imagined risk, a ‘frontier’ (Melbin 1978) where apparent freedom and transgression are closely linked, and where regulation of leisure and collective intoxication has been diffused throughout an expanding network of state and private actors. This book explores Sydney’s contemporary night-time economy as the product of an intersection of both local and global transformations, as policing comes to incorporate more and more ‘private’ personnel empowered to regulate ‘public’ drinking and nightlife.

Policing Nightlife focuses on the historical and social conditions, cultural meanings and regulatory controls that have shaped both public and private forms of policing and security in contemporary urban nightlife. In so doing, it reflects more broadly on global changes in the nature of contemporary policing and how aspects of neoliberalism and the ideal of the ‘24-hour city’ have shaped policing, security and night-time leisure. Based on a decade of research and interviews with both police and doorstaff working in nightlife settings, it explores the effectiveness of policies governing policing and private security in the night-time economy in the context of media, political and public debates about regulation, and the gendered and highly masculine aspects of much of this work.

An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, policing, sociology and those interested in understanding the debates surrounding security, policing and contemporary urban nightlife.

chapter 1|17 pages


chapter 3|25 pages

The history of policing and nightlife

chapter 4|32 pages

Regulation, security and the night-time economy

The Sydney study

chapter 5|30 pages

‘Crossing the line into the danger zone’

Nightlife, crime and policing in the news

chapter 6|35 pages

‘It’s not always pretty, but someone has to do it’

Private security in Sydney’s night-time economy

chapter 7|24 pages

‘The city in bedlam’

Police views on Sydney’s night-time economy

chapter 8|12 pages

There and back again?

Drinking and the governance of Sydney nightlife