Based on a study of policy frames in Malmö, this article discusses the safety–security nexus in urban governance. It argues that perceived safety is constituted as an index of order and that security politics becomes a means to this end. Security forms part and parcel of an expanded cohesion agenda that links criminal justice, immigration control, and integration as a chain. This multi-levelled policy chain, which includes police collaboration with governmental as well as non-governmental actors, opens up for expanded policing – termed welfare policing – in immigrant-dense areas of the city. The expansive security politics conflates welfare provision with crime prevention in specific urban districts, thus rendering entire sub-populations legible as ‘dangerous’ others against which society, or the city, must be defended. In conclusion, the article argues that the inherited structures and institutions of the welfare state seem to offer favourable conditions for expanded policing in urban space.
Critical urban theorists have emphasised the vanishing of spaces for collectivisation, or urban commons, resulting from privatisation of public goods and services, the dismantling of municipal infrastructures and other neoliberal features of contemporary urban governance (Mayer 2012: 78). At the same time, discourses on social cohesion and civic integration have taken a stronghold in urban governance, particularly in Europe. Rather than seeing this as a contradiction, I attempt to demonstrate how cohesion discourse underpins neoliberal trends of moralisation of citizenship and responsibilisation of subjects in urban governance. I do not see this as a dismantling of municipal infrastructures, however. I shall argue instead that established welfare state structures and institutions form the basis for variegated modes of security: more police enforcement in conjunction with more police involvement in ‘social’ policy interventions.
In the first part of the article, I will probe the safety–security nexus from a theoretical point of view, arguing that crime prevention has less to do with preventing people from violating the law and more to do with securing order and regulating spaces in urban areas designated as problematic (McGhee 2003: 390). I will demonstrate, in accord with Mustafa Dikeç (2007), how practices of articulation (policy documents, polls, media reports, spatial designations, etc.) constitute specific urban spaces as objects of policy interventions. Precisely because the safety–security nexus relates to the environment of which it is a part, I intend to analyse demands for safety and security in their broader political and economic context, demonstrating how policing serves the purposes of social cohesion and economic growth at once. Based on a study of policy frames in urban governance in Sweden, with a special focus on Malmö,1 I proceed to discuss, in Part II, how various techniques of control are entwined with ‘social’ crime prevention, amounting to what I term welfare policing. I am particularly concerned with how partnership agreements between the police and local authorities intensify and widen the scope of policing in deprived, immigrant-dense areas, conflating welfare with crime prevention. My principal argument is that the expanded cohesion agenda, which opens up for far-reaching security politics in specific districts, renders entire sub-populations legible as dangerous ‘others’ against which society, or the city, must be defended.
Construing the city as an entity to be defended
Images of the city as an entity to be defended are often established in discourses on competition, ‘rhetorically bolstered through recourse to the establishment of external enemies’ (Massey 2005: 158). The external enemies could be other cities and regions that compete in the same market, or it could be the national government pursuing a policy that privileges other national cities and regions at the cost of one’s own city, thus making the city less successful than it otherwise would be. In Malmö, this kind of message is conveyed in the political rhetoric of former social democrat mayor (between 1994 and 2013), Ilmar Reepalu, who takes issue with the national government’s unwillingness to change the country’s asylum legislation that enables refugees to choose freely where to live while waiting for their asylum applications to be processed. In Reepalu’s view, the asylum legislation can be blamed for the city’s problem of segregation and, in effect, for raising the level of (organised) crime that threatens the inhabitants’ security and feeling of safety (Sydsvenskan 2012a/b; Dagens Arena 2012). In this line of reasoning, the cumulative effects of the national immigration control are segregated and criminalised ethnic minority communities that do not contribute to Malmö’s overall positive development.
To increase the city’s economic productivity and attractiveness, while decreasing street crime and unsocial behaviour, it is imperative that problematic and threatening difference gives way to prosperous diversity (Mukhtar-Landgren 2012). In accordance with this view, Malmö City’s visionary comprehensive plan depicts ethnic and cultural diversity as a potential asset that fuels the city’s economy (Malmö City Planning Office 2013). The corresponding view is that economic development for the city eventually benefits all inhabitants, including the least privileged subpopulations (Massey 2005). In either case, the city’s positive development hinges on security measures that come to grips with differences that impact negatively on the city as a whole (Gressgård 2015b). Based on idealised and idealising notions of the city, urban governance aims to recreate the urban characteristics that are needed for the city to be whole (once again) (Tunström and Bradley 2015: 77). Those who pose a threat to the city are hence not only – and not primarily – external enemies, but include also undesirable migrants and minority groups in its midst.
Security and the expanded cohesion agenda
The connection Reepalu makes between urban segregation (disintegration), immigration politics and crime is indicative of an expanded social cohesion agenda that has evolved in Europe over the past decades.2 Based on a comparative study of the turn to cohesion politics in France, Germany and the UK, Jan Dobbernack (2014: 128, 175) observes that the agenda-setting around cohesion has extended the domain of problematic behaviour, accompanied by (discursively asserted and constructed) anxieties of declining levels of trust, decaying norms of collective conduct and loosening communal ties. In a British context, Anne-Marie Fortier (2010) sees the chain-linking of criminal justice, immigration and civic integration as an expansion of the remit of cohesion from the management of diversity to involving the fight against crime and security threats. Willem Schinkel and Friso van Houdt (2010: 707) point to a similar nexus of immigrant integration and crime control in Dutch politics, manifested in a ‘safety chain’ of collaborative partners (the justice department, police, local municipality, housing corporations, etc.) that work together at the local level of the neighbourhood, especially where large number of so-called non-Western migrants are ‘concentrated’. Because crime is regarded as a ‘social’ problem resulting from lack of responsibility and lack of cultural adjustment and community, Dutch policy-makers have stressed the need for normative attachment to society alongside more surveillance (Schinkel and Van Houdt 2010: 708, 709; Schinkel and Van den Berg 2011). According to Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Aleksandra Ålund (2011: 56), Swedish policy documents echo contemporaneous cohesion discourses in the UK, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe when advocating cultural unity rather than cultural plurality backed by equity or equality. To secure social cohesion, they critically remark, ‘a shared vision and sense of belonging must be extended to those who live “outside society”‘ (Schierup and Ålund 2011: 56; see also Dikeç 2007).
In Sweden, there has been a welfare state critique following an era of social-democratic dominance, accompanied by a gradual political shift away from a ‘strong’ welfare state towards a politics that places much stress on civil society as a moral collectivity (see e.g. Dahlstedt 2008; Kings 2011; Lozic 2010; Tunström and Bradley 2015). Whereas the traditional welfare state redistributed public goods and services to citizens on the basis of their given membership in ‘the social’ (identified with nation-state citizenship), more recent neoliberal governance is preoccupied with the building of responsible communities (O’Malley 2004: 74). People are made personally responsible for their belonging to ‘the social’, notably in the context of debate and policy on immigrant integration (Kofman 2005; O’Malley 2004; Schinkel and Van Houdt 2010). Schinkel and Van Houdt (2010: 697) maintain that the moralisation of citizenship pertaining to cultural assimilationism is intertwined with the responsibilisation of subjects that is characteristic of neoliberal forms of governing. Moralisation and responsibilisation come together in moralised notions of the ‘good’ and ‘active’ citizen. Another way of putting this – paraphrasing Pat O’Malley (2004: 74) – would be that moralisation and responsibilisation come together in cohesion discourse’s emphasis on the responsibility people own to society and their communities.
When civil society is transposed into the concept of community, community is no longer merely the territory of government, but has become a means of government (McGhee 2003: 380, 390; see also Cruikshank 1999: 93; Rose 1999). We shall see below how community is promoted as a way of both preventing and combating crime, and how the supposed restoration of community is, in turn, regarded as necessary for a smoothly functioning economy. In Part II, we shall see how collaborative authorities in Sweden have initiated crime-preventive empowerment programmes aimed at enabling the formation of local community bonds and capabilities, in conjunction with intensified pre-emptive order enforcement by the police. First, however, I shall elaborate on how the security–safety nexus, through cohesion discourse, works to extrapolate from peoples’ fear of being attacked by criminals of immigrant or ethnic minority background to society being under attack as a whole.
Fear of disintegration, moralisation of citizenship and order maintenance
Fortier (2010) demonstrates how cohesion politics is centred on the subjects’ desires to belong on the one hand, and their emotive responses to perceived threats to cohesion and safe living on the other. The expanded cohesion agenda evolves into a form of ‘governing through affect’, where emotive responses are the subject of polls, etc. (Fortier 2010: 20, 22). As of 2006, the Swedish government has commissioned the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet [BRÅ]), with the assistance of Statistics Sweden, to conduct an annual national survey on people’s felt security and vulnerability to crime. Among the questions are: ‘Were you threatened last year in such a way that you were frightened?’; ‘Are you anxious about crime in society?’ and ‘What is the extent of your confidence in the way the police carry out their work?’ (BRÅ 2013a). Malmö City and the police also conduct their own annual survey on issues of safety in different urban districts. The results of these polls are disseminated to the public through local media and commented upon by the police and local authorities.
In line with Fortier (2010), it could be argued that the questionnaires are designed to address an anxious and affective subject. It is also possible to argue that the measurement of inhabitants’ felt safety or fear of crime instigates and aggravates a particular kind of xenophobia pertaining to fear of disintegration. Bryan Turner (2007: 300) sees this escalating form of xenophobia as part of a modern culture of fear, maintaining that ‘[t]he essential political condition xenophobia is a situation in which the majority feels that it is under attack’. In a similar vein, Les Back and Shamser Sinha (2012: 140) argue that it is fear and insecurity that give the racism of today its affective energy and force, connecting the personal state with the battle to secure and defend society itself. Migrants and ethnic minorities might be portrayed as refusing injunctions to care for the neighbourhood as well as the nation due to a lack of solidarity and loyalty (Erel 2011; Fitzgerald and Smoczynski 2015; Schierup and Ålund 2011; Skey 2011). Such apocryphal story-telling (moral panics) characteristically play on the interrelated registers of safety and security. In a Dutch context, Van Houdt and Schinkel (2014: 52) remark that feelings of insecurity (i.e. unsafety) have become leading targets of intervention, while also giving rise to legitimate policy targets.
In many cases, (un)safety (i.e. the level of anxiety) figures as an index of (dis)order, and security politics is carried out as a means to restore order and continuity (Hills 2009: 14, 216, 222). Didier Fassin (2013: xv) is among the critical scholars who have identified a shift in recent years from law enforcement to enforcing order in urban security politics. Order enforcement policy draws attention to ‘populations at risk’ in so-called problematic areas, disharmonious neighbourhoods, districts out of control, defect places, security hot spots, combat zones, etc. (see e.g., Amin 2012; Dikeç 2007; Dobbernack 2014; Fassin 2013; Garland 2001; Schierup et al. 2014; Schierup and Ålund 2011; Schinkel and Van den Berg 2011; Van Steden and Huberts 2006; Wacquant 2008a). From a critical point of view, order enforcement is seen as a projection of order more than as an imposition of order on the given (Castel 1991: 295). The point to be made here is that the safety–security nexus plays a formative role in this process: the designation of populations at risk in so-called problematic areas propels fear of disintegration and works to construe specific spaces as objects of policy interventions (see e.g. Dikeç 2007; Van Houdt and Schinkel 2014).
Combining pre-emptive and preventive crime fighting
The police are vested with statutory powers, over and above those of ordinary citizens, which allow them to use force in their exercise of crime-fighting tasks. These powers may be extended under special circumstances and in specific areas. I shall refer to such force-based crime fighting as pre-emptive, characterized by a ‘will to power’.3 On the other hand, the police are involved in a number of crime-preventive practices that do not involve force and restraining control but contain a strong social element, characterised by a ‘will to empower’ vulnerable groups and individuals (Cruikshank 1999).4 In the remaining part of the article, I shall focus attention on collaborations between the police and local authorities, and how collaborative efforts combine pre-emptive and preventive crime fighting through plural forms of policing (Jones and Newburn 2006a).
Using Malmö as a case in point, I shall elaborate on how the coercive ‘will to power’ is entwined with the care-oriented ‘will to empower’ in partnerships against crime, and how these new assemblages entail a transformation of welfare provision towards crime prevention within an expanded cohesion agenda. I am particularly concerned with how a long-established welfare state tradition has become enmeshed in preventive programmes that combine coercion and care in specific territorial areas (De Koning 2015).
Partnerships against crime
There has been a gradual change in the policing landscape, in and beyond the heartlands of social democracy. A number of hybrid forms of crime-fighting strategies are emerging, especially in big cities, and the importance of partnerships in the provision of policing services and community safety is growing steadily (Jones and Newburn 2006b). Partnership in policing signals that the authorities wish to spread responsibility for public safety and security across society. Responsibility for crime prevention is devolved to a variety of governmental and non-governmental actors to engender the spirit of community responsibility and active citizenship.
Although the responsibility for safety and security is less dispersed in Sweden than it is in many other countries (Amin 2013), Sweden has witnessed a rapid increase in partnership in policing in recent years. The idea of collaboration in crime prevention was initially introduced in a national programme initiated by the Swedish government in 1996, and further propelled by a plan of action from the National Police Board (2007) that vindicates formal collaboration agreements. In 2010, a handbook was published to support and stimulate a long-term collaboration between the police, municipalities and other parties (BRÅ et al. 2010: 8). While the plan of action applied exclusively to the police authorities, the handbook caters for the needs of both the police and the local authorities (BRÅ 2013b: 23).
The inspection report, Police and Municipality Collaboration (Samverkan polis och kommun), states that crime prevention is generally understood as ‘activities that the police carry out in collaboration with other actors or independently in order to prevent or hamper commitment of crime, criminal actions or breach of the peace’ (National Police Board 2012: 7, my translation). The report concedes that this broad definition of crime prevention, aimed at increasing safety and preventing crime, is problematic because the relationship between safety and security is not clarified; it is just assumed (National Police Board 2012: 35). Nevertheless, the safety–security nexus is described as a robust basis for local security politics, and the report underscores the importance of local crime prevention initiatives in this respect.
The importance of a shared understanding of the local safety–security situation is furthered stressed in a follow-up evaluation report by the National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ 2013b), and is central to a major reform of the Swedish Police Service that involves a new national Police Authority as of 2015 (Polissamordningen website 2015). Through so-called citizen commitments (medborgarlöften) the police commit themselves more to the citizens they serve: ‘focus on things that people who live and work in an area take to be most important in order to feel safe and secure’ (Implementing Committee for New Swedish Police Service 2015: 4, my translation; see also Polisen 2015: 30). In the National Police Commissioner’s report for 2015–2016, it is stated that ‘[p]eople should feel that the police care and take their problems seriously. That makes more people willing to collaborate and assist the police’ (Polisen 2015: 5, my translation).
The overall focus is on how to improve police responses to (risks of) crime through community involvement, rather than questioning the broader effects of policing and the idea that policing is about safety and security for all (see Lamble 2013: 239f.).
Swedish crime-fighting programmes are tailored to the same pattern as British programmes, which combine pre-emptive enforcement activities, for example crackdowns and surveillance, with long-term interventions to prevent youngsters from being recruited to criminal networks (Bullock and Tilley 2008: 40). In the so-called Manchester model, police enforcement activities are meant for non-cooperative individuals who have been offered help and support to remain clear from offending and gang membership but who in spite of all that continue to offend. The enforcement activities function as a coercive, authoritarian threat behind the care-oriented preventive measures undertaken by other agencies. This is by some involved actors described as a ‘carrot and stick’ dynamics (Bullock and Tilley 2008: 40), resembling the power of surveillance described by Frantz Fanon (1986: 117): ‘As long as everything went well, he was praised to the skies, but look out, no nonsense, under any condition!’
As distinct from their British counterparts and most other European partnerships in policing, there is a persistent focus in Swedish policy reports on social problems and a robust faith in the social sciences and their professions. When social problems are put on the policy agenda, however, the framing tends to shift from welfare issues to security and safety, drawing attention to ‘populations at risk’ and emphasizing self-governing subjects aided by an empowering, enabling state (O’Malley 2004: 57, 59, 62ff.). In a recent report that discusses how to improve local crime prevention, the Council for Crime Prevention looks for greater willingness to contribute with new ideas and innovation (BRÅ 2015). Within the frame of collaboration agreements and citizen commitments, this probably means eclipsing socio-structural perspectives more still by moralisation and responsibilisation.
As already mentioned, attached to the preventive practices of responsibilisation of subjects (who have been offered choices) is the blaming and sanctioning – the threat of penalisation and incapacitating – of those who are ‘unwilling’ to comply with the norms of the inclusive state (Miller and Rose 2008: 105; Schierup et al. 2014; Schierup and Ålund 2011). This is not to say that empowerment programmes are repressive policing in disguise. Rather, it is to suggest that the social inclusion of ‘good’, responsible citizens is conditioned on a normative and often spatial exclusion of ‘bad’ citizens or non-citizens who allegedly do not belong to the city and thus have no ‘right to the city’ (Lefebvre 1996). Collaborative efforts in Malmö involve, as will become evident in the following, an affective mobilisation of responsible people who belong to the city or community against internal and external enemies. This, in turn, serves to construe the city as an entity to be defended.
Crime-fighting collaborations in Malmö
Like other Swedish municipalities, the city administration of Malmö and the local police have initiated a joint security–safety agreement, Malmö – A Safe and Secure City (Malmö – en trygg och säker stad), running from 2012 to 2016 (succeeding the Five Focal Points for Increased Safety in Malmö (Fem Fokus for ökad trygghet i Malmö) from 2011). In keeping with the cohesion agenda and the emphasis on community involvement, the document underscores that the preventive practices are aimed at activating citizens and increasing their feelings of trust, confidence, belonging, etc. For the collaboration to work, it is argued, the collaborating parties have to trust one another, develop a common view of their work and deploy a common vocabulary (Malmö City 2012). Irrespective of its actual effects on crime, I would argue that the partnership agreement testifies to what Fortier (2010: 21, 24), in British cohesion politics, identifies as a political will to unity, in combination with a post-political framework of a ‘shared future vision’.
One example of collaborative efforts in Malmö is the campaign ‘Heja Malmö!’ from 2012. The campaign blog urged the city’s inhabitants to ask for a receipt when buying alcohol, taking a taxi, etc. to undermine the informal economy associated with criminal gangs. The slogan ‘Heja Malmö!’ is an encouragement to join in the cheers: ‘Come on, Malmö!’ The campaign attempts to create enthusiasm and love for the city by promising ‘a good strong dose of Malmö love’ (Heja Malmö! website 2012; Vårt Malmö 2012a). One of the campaign blog headings was ‘We love our city’ – a common statement from the then-mayor and social democrat, Reepalu, and the leader of the conservative, oppositional party at the time, Anja Sonesson. On behalf of the municipality, the politicians promised to do whatever they can, in collaboration with the police, to prevent youngsters from being recruited by the criminal networks, but they need help from the local community:
Together with the police, we will support persons who want to change their life style and leave their criminal life behind . . . But even here we need help from Malmö’s inhabitants, associations and businesses that want to back up the youth . . . We love our city. And to the criminal gangs we say in unison: You are not welcome in our lovely Malmö! (Heja Malmö! website 2012, my translation).
The campaign blog and leaflet also announced that civilians are the best detectives – in popular discourse called ‘the detective civil society’ (Detektiven Allmänheten) – when it comes to reporting and combating crime. An interviewed police officer, cited in the local broadsheet under the heading ‘The best detective is oneself’ (Själv ër bästa detektiv), commented that the police are increasingly tipped by people who suspect crime or observe criminal activities. On the other hand, he explained, there are groups of people who do not feel that they belong to society and therefore do not feel solidarity. ‘It’s about loyalty and what people identify with’, he concluded (Vårt Malmö 2012a, my translation).5
There have also been other collaborative efforts that address the informal economy in Malmö, such as a crime-fighting programme that targeted illegal businesses, which are considered to form a major part of the city’s crime scene (Sydsvenskan 2011a). The programme included collaboration with the tax authorities, but was chiefly concerned with pre-emptive crime fighting in urban micro-places, so-called hot spots, where the risk of crime is considered to be particularly high. In the summer of 2011, the police set off in pursuit of the criminal gangs in Norra Grängesbergsgatan, a street in the southern inner city dominated by small migrant-run businesses (various shops, hairdressers, food stalls, workshops, etc.) and minority associations and clubs, some of them illegal (in popular discourse referred to as ‘black clubs’). The city authorities gave the police permission to close the street for traffic between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and those who did not comply with the restrictions risked having their cars searched by the police (Polisen website 2011). In an interview with the local newspaper, Sydsvenskan, the commander-in-chief of the programme declared that the police will be more visible in this particular area of the city, and the undercover police will actively target Malmö’s criminal underworld. According to the newspaper article, this is an established method; other streets have previously been closed for traffic during night time to prevent street prostitution. The article also listed a number of other criminal activities that are associated with ‘the underworld’, including shootings, trafficking, rapes and attacks and assassinations by explosives. The crime-fighting strategy has had a smoothing effect on the whole area, the police representative assured (Sydsvenskan 2011b), thereby suggesting that ordinary citizens can feel more safe in the previously dangerous area.
The first case serves to illustrate how preventive policing involves the use of information, in combination with measures aimed at increasing feelings of safety and cohesion (these constitute two separate crime prevention categories within the frame of collaboration agreements) (BRÅ 2013b: 52, 54). Most importantly for purposes of our argument, the example demonstrates how incivility is associated with criminal networks – consisting mainly of so-called alienated young men of immigrant or ethnic minority background – that pose a threat to ‘our city’ and jeopardize the inhabitants’ safety. The appeal to the city’s inhabitants – used as a generic term in the ‘Heja Malmö!’ campaign – reflects a view of civil society as basically homogenous and, as a whole, worthy of protection from destructive forces (Mayer 2012: 74). Through interpellation, the campaign seeks to engage civil society, using a narrative of belonging to mobilize people for the city, against criminal gangs and networks. The campaign affectively plays upon and exacerbate distinctions between loyal inhabitants and failed citizens or non-citizens who are either figured as disloyal (feel no solidarity), or the cause of insecurity (Lamble 2013: 231). The latter category should either be voluntarily enrolled in empowering programmes, or – alternatively – forcefully excluded, in accordance with the politicians’ proclamation that criminal gangs are not welcome in ‘our city’.6 As for the safety–security nexus, we could infer that when civilians are made into detectives, suspicion of crime is inevitably directed towards particular groups of people, marked by difference, in specific areas or streets. It also seems pertinent to note that the marginalisation of areas designated as problematic is more or less disconnected from wider structures and processes in society (Schierup and Ålund 2011: 55, 57; Tunström and Bradley 2015: 78), attesting to the conjoined power mechanisms of moralisation and responsibilisation described above.
The second case demonstrates how the police use pre-emptive measures to make it more difficult for targeted populations to commit crime and increase both the feeling and the actual risk of being caught (the police categorise these measures as crime-preventive in a ‘strict’ sense, and they use a separate category for measures that target populations at risk) (BRÅ 2013b: 52, 54). According to Mats Franzén (2001: 206), the general decline of the welfare state is being compensated for by the police’s extended authority to use situational crime-fighting techniques ‘directly aimed at inhibiting criminal and other threatening acts in particular spaces’. However, it could be argued that the policing activities not only work to inhibit criminal acts; they also serve to produce spaces of intervention by identifying ethnic minority populations in designated areas with criminal activities such as illegal businesses, drug offences, violence, among others (Turner 2007: 289) – in short, the criminal ‘underworld’ that threatens ‘our city’. The designation ‘underworld’ signals that those who belong to this world exist outside of society; they do not belong to the city. Taken together, the cases exemplify how issues of migration and integration are tied in with criminal justice.
As indicated above, the combination of more force-based policing and more ‘social’ policing makes it virtually impossible to discern between welfare provision and crime prevention in specific urban districts. The conflation of welfare provision and crime prevention effectively blurs the boundaries between police interventions based on concrete suspicion of crime on the one hand, and ‘social’ interventions that target whole subpopulations of emplaced and unprivileged people of minority background on the other. As Robert Castel (1991: 288) notes, it is no longer necessary to manifest symptoms of dangerousness to be suspected; ‘it is enough to display whatever characteristics the specialists responsible for the definition of preventive policy have constituted as risk factors’. In line with Castel, Schierup et al. (2014: 7, 12) maintain that ‘socially marginalised places have become stigmatised and criminalised and it is enough to live in or to be present in a certain area to be subject to control’. This, in turn, entails a potentially infinite multiplication of the possibilities for intervention (Castel 1991: 289). Obviously, people’s fear of crime can never be completely eliminated and safety never guaranteed entirely. The preoccupation with feelings of safety in contemporary policy thus paves the way for endless public critique of defective interventions, alongside demands for new and more effective security measures (Borch 2005: 159).
Collaboration for the city’s prosperity and attractiveness
At this juncture, it is important to note that policing in terms of punitive paternalism (at the bottom) is tied in with practices of economic (neo)liberalism (at the top) (Wacquant 2008b: 203). For instance, the national inspection report assumes that the municipalities want their inhabitants to be safe because it makes the municipalities more attractive to businesses, investments and people looking for jobs. This is crucial, the report states, because it makes the municipalities more willing to co-fund the safety surveys (NPB 2012: 33; see also BRÅ 2013b: 44; BRÅ et al. 2010: 12). Malmö is not included in the inspection report, but Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg, is among the evaluated municipalities. The Gothenburg partnership agreement is particularly instructive in so far as it is influenced by the Manchester model and because it explicitly links security politics to the city’s overall economic development, which is indicative of the transmuted welfare state. The document establishes that the collaboration between the police and other actors will contribute to a positive development of vulnerable urban districts through a combined focus on safety, employment, education and economic growth from a ‘holistic’ point of view. A positive development in all the involved areas (officially designated as ‘improvement areas’) is, according to the document, conditioned upon their inclusion in the development of the city as a whole, as well as that of the region (Gothenburg City 2010; NPB 2012: 20ff.).
With regard to the ‘holistic’ approach to prosperous urban development, it should be noted that partnership agreements are without a clear point of fixation. Niels Å. Andersen (2008: 115, 122) remarks that in contrast to the pre-determined purposes of traditional welfare politics, quasi-contractual partnership agreements flexibly seek out possibilities for new couplings, and their open character creates particular ideas and visions of the problems to be solved within the post-political, visionary framework of the cohesion agenda (Fortier 2010: 28). This is evident in the above-mentioned policy documents that stress the importance of developing a common view, deploying a common vocabulary and creating a sense of belonging and feeling of safety through citizen commitment (see also Gressgård 2015a/b). According to O’Malley (2004: 64), critics of (state) bureaucracy imagine a different way of governing the future that embraces the intuitive, daring and imaginative. So, rather than representing dead (contract) texts that can gradually become fixed through interpretation (Andersen 2008: 123), partnership agreements seem to be about imagination; the future is waiting to be formed by the power of will and imagination, as it were (O’Malley 2004: 71). It could be argued that visionary planning, aimed at moulding and strengthening shared identities, leaves little room for political struggles or ideological battles, and it weakens the democratic transparency and accountability of the planning process (see e.g., Baeten 2012; Dannestam 2008; Gressgård 2015a/b; Nylund 2014). In largely uncontested, managerial terms, specific spaces and populations are constituted as a form of exteriority that menaces the integrity and development of the city (or society) (Dikeç 2007: 172).
We have seen that the police and local authorities in Malmö seek to develop a common view of their work – a shared problem focus – based on quasi-contractual trust and a view of the city as an entity. Urban governance seeks to facilitate couplings between various actors, ultimately aimed at recreating the urban characteristics that are needed for the city to be a cohesive whole (again). The discussion has suggested that this holistic ambition (Lithman 2010) emerges from an expanded cohesion agenda and a concomitant safety–security nexus in urban governance. I have argued that in spite of the fact that the scope of policing is widened and the efforts are intensified, policing is hardly a contested issue within this policy framework. Instead of debating (politically) whether policing is a reasonable way of dealing with problems related to segregation and marginalisation, the problems are framed in such a way that more comprehensive (holistic) policing appears like an obvious solution.
Given the strong emphasis on the reformist ‘will to empower’ in welfare policing, the integral ‘will to power’ is somewhat obscured. This blurriness is further compounded by the open, quasi-contractual character of partnership agreements, not to mention the proliferation in actors involved in crime prevention and their diffuse mandate. Within the limits of the law, albeit in a legal grey zone, welfare policing allows of expansive policy interventions in specific neighbourhoods and domestic domains, which makes it virtually impossible to discern between welfare and security politics. I have argued that people of immigrant or ethnic minority background who happen to live in deprived neighbourhoods are targeted for crime-preventive interventions, not on the basis of concrete imputations of dangerousness, but because their marginalised status in society is coded as a security threat. Emplaced minority groups are cast as potentially dangerous populations based on a combination of factors liable to produce risk (Castel 1991: 288; Schinkel and Van den Berg 2011: 1924).
The conflation of welfare provision and crime prevention is not an entirely new phenomenon in Scandinavia; crime prevention has been part and parcel of social-democratic welfare politics for decades (Borch 2005). However, the importance of collaborative efforts has become ever more articulated, notably through partnerships in policing and subsequent citizen commitments, which means that new possibilities of interventions are opened up. As for the safety–security nexus, I have argued that cohesion discourse extrapolates from people’s fear of being personally attacked by criminals of immigrant or ethnic minority background to society (or the city) being under attack as a whole. We have seen that mediated stories about the criminal underworld versus ordinary citizens (who are loyal and love their city) affectively play upon distinctions between inhabitants worthy of protection and enemies of the city who are figured as the cause of unsafety. Moreover, safety polls that measure feelings of (un)safety give legitimacy to more expansive security politics. The examples from Malmö demonstrate that the safety–security nexus constitutes a vital part of the expanded cohesion agenda that links security, criminal justice and issues of immigration and integration as a chain.
Within the expanded cohesion agenda, I have argued, crime prevention has less to do with preventing people from violating the law and more to do with securing order (Fassin 2013). This is not to say, however, that concerns over public order have given priority to security over welfare, as Turner (2007: 295) suggests in a British context. There is no contradiction between enforcing order and providing welfare (in a transmuted form) (see Baeten 2012: 26; Dannestam 2008).7 In the Swedish case, the inherited institutions and infrastructures of the social-democratic welfare state seem to offer favourable conditions for expanded policing in urban space.
I am grateful to Lisa Kings, Aleksandra Ålund, Kari Anne Drangsland, Ana Ivasiuc, and Anouk de Koning for having commented on earlier versions of this article. I would also like to thank the two anonymous referees and the journal editors for their valuable comments.
Amin, A 2012, Land of strangers, Polity, Cambridge.
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The work on this article was conducted within the research project ‘Planning for pluralism in Malmö’ (PLANPLUR), supported by a research grant from the Meltzer fund, University of Bergen. The empirical part of the article is mainly based on local media reports and policy documents published between 2011 and 2015. The empirical material of the entire PLANPLUR study includes participatory observation in public meetings, seminars etc. on social sustainability between 2011 and 2013 (see Gressgård 2015a/b).
According to Katarina Nylund (2014: 52), the concept of social cohesion was introduced for the first time in Malmö’s current comprehensive plan (Malmö City Planning Office 2013). The politics associated with the cohesion agenda is far from new, however; it has evolved since the 1980s in Scandinavian countries (Borch 2005).
My definition is different from Nietzsche’s conceptualisation of ‘will to power’ in terms of a primordial force (Kraft). Informed by Michel Foucault’s (2007, 2008) conceptual vocabulary, I take ‘will to power’ to mean the exercise of authority over others through constraining techniques of power, centered on prohibitions and disciplinary rules, as distinct from powers of (self)regulation by way of empowerment.
The distinction between pre-emptive and preventive crime fighting converges with the conventional distinction between reactive and pro-active policing inasmuch as pre-emptive policing includes techniques characteristic of reactive policing. However, both pre-emptive and preventive crime fighting are pro-active in that they are aimed at preventing crime from taking place.
During 2015, there has been a series of detonations (mainly by hand grenades) in Malmö. When commenting on the frequent attacks in the local newspaper, a local Social Democrat politician responsible for issues relating to safety and security in Malmö municipality, used a similar rhetoric of cohesion, responsibilisation and attachment to the one used in the ‘Heja Malmö!’ campaign: ‘Everyone who loves Malmö has a shared responsibility for sticking together and doing whatever they can to stop the wave of violence’ (Sydsvenskan 2015, my translation).
People who want to ‘leave their criminal life behind’ are eligible for support from Malmö’s Consultation Team (Malmös Konsultationsteam), which is a collaboration between Malmö City, the police, local crime prevention authorities (Kriminalvården), and a national institution for crime prevention amongst youths (Statens Institutionsstyrelse) (Vårt Malmö 2012b: 3; see also Malmö City 2014).
Much like the security apparatus of the Ancien Régime in the context of European urbanisation, the neoliberal (transmuted) welfare state utilises police forces both to control and to manage populations, dealing with law and order enforcement as well as the well-being of citizens and economic circulation (see Foucault 2007: 65, 343ff., 2008: 253ff.).