Moving on the Travelers and Tolerating the Water Bombers: Varying Approaches to Policing Temporary Populations

Adrian Barton, University of Plymouth
Zoe James, University of Plymouth

Populations in most Western democracies are becoming increasingly mobile due to travel being easier and relatively cheaper than ever before. Indeed the fact that we have freedom of movement is celebrated as a defining feature of our society. Such ability to be movile in large numbers had led to the staging of a number of special, often recurring, events that draw large numbers of people into specific locations for short periods of time. It is often the case that these temporary populations generate event-specific cultures that are at odds with the day-to-day life of the host area. In the main, the police and local residents see these types of 'travellers' as a short-term nuisance that can be accommodated. However, in the UK, 'travellers' -- a group of people who seek and promote an alternative lifestyle -- also create a temporary population that promotes an alternative culture to that of the host area. In contrast to the above, these travellers are often viewed by the police and local residents as a short-term risk that cannot be tolerated. Drawing on empirical data, this paper explores the varying approaches to policing different types of temporary populations by examining the effects of perceptions of risk, the needs of the business community and the social construction of space.

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Updated 05/20/2006