Urban regeneration programmes in the UK over the past 20 years have increasingly focused on attracting investors, middle-class shoppers and visitors by transforming places and creating new consumption spaces. Ensuring that places are safe and are seen to be safe has taken on greater salience as these flows of income are easily disrupted by changing perceptions of fear and the threat of crime. At the same time, new technologies and policing strategies and tactics have been adopted in a number of regeneration areas which seek to establish control over these new urban spaces. Policing space is increasingly about controlling human actions through design, surveillance technologies and codes of conduct and enforcement. Regeneration agencies and the police now work in partnerships to develop their strategies. At its most extreme, this can lead to the creation of zero-tolerance, or what Smith terms ‘revanchist’, measures aimed at particular
social groups in an effort to sanitise space in the interests of capital accumulation. This paper, drawing on an examination of regeneration practices and processes in one of the UK’s fastest growing urban areas, Reading in Berkshire, assesses policing strategies and tactics in the wake of a major regeneration programme. It documents and discusses the discourses of regeneration that have developed in the town and the ways in which new urban spaces have been secured. It
argues that, whilst security concerns have become embedded in institutional discourses and practices, the implementation of security measures has been mediated, in part, by the local socio-political relations in and through which they have been developed.