Penalising Presence in Public Space: Control through Exclusion of the ‘Difficult’ and ‘Undesirable


Over the last two decades and across a number of jurisdictions, new measures enshrined in criminal law and administrative codes have empowered authorities to exclude unwelcome groups and individuals from public spaces. Focusing particular attention on recent reform in Britain, this paper traces the evolution of contemporary exclusionary practices, from their initial concern with proscribed behaviour to the penalisation of mere presence. The latter part of the paper offers a critical assessment of what has driven these innovations in control of the public realm. Here consideration is given to two possibilities. First, such policy is the outcome of punitive and revanchist logics. Second, their intentions are essentially benign, reflecting concerns about risk, liveability and failures of traditional order-maintenance mechanisms. While acknowledging concerns about the over-eagerness of scholars to brand new policy as punitive, the paper concludes that any benign intentions are overshadowed by the regressive and marginalising consequences of preferred solutions.

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Published: 2017-05-22
Pages:1 to 16
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How to Cite
Johnstone, C. (2017) “Penalising Presence in Public Space: Control through Exclusion of the ‘Difficult’ and ‘Undesirable”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 6(2), pp. 1-16. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v6i2.299.

Author Biography

University of Brighton
 United Kingdom
Principal Lecturer in Criminology
School of Applied Social Science