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Zonal banning and public order in urban Australia

posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Darren Palmer, Ian WarrenIan Warren
In recent years, Australian governments of various ideological persuasions at local, state and territory and federal levels have introduced a range of zonal governing techniques to manage the flow of people in urban spaces. Zonal governance involves the identification and formal declaration of a specific urban geographic region to enable police and security personnel to deploy special powers and allied forms of surveillance technologies as a supplement to their conventional public order maintenance functions.

Despite the impetus towards open flows or movement within sovereign territories or larger territorial groupings, such as the European Union, considerable governmental effort has been directed towards the use of new forms of criminal law to re-territorialize urban space through new administrative, property law and regulatory measures. These low-level spatial demarcations introduce various supplementary police powers and discretionary procedures that enhance surveillance within a declared area to increase the level of contemporary urban security. Of particular concern is the legal right to ban or exclude “undesirable” individuals and groups from entering or using certain designated urban zones, to prevent antisocial or violent behavior usually associated with alcohol consumption.

To date, most discussion of the impact of banning and related surveillance measures focuses on illegal migration through ports of entry into sovereign nations and the commensurate burdens this creates for both citizens and non-citizens to authenticate their movements at national geographic borders. This logic is permeating more localized forms of regulation adopted by Australian local and mid-tier state and territory governments to control the movement of people in and out of major event sites and in the urban night-time economy.

A survey of recent reforms in the state of Victoria reveals how this new logic of mass-surveillance aims to promote greater levels of urban security while reshaping the conventional order maintenance functions of both the public and private police. This chapter describes these procedures and their impact in sanctioning the efficient screening of people to promote order in specific zones within the contemporary Australian urban environment, at the expense of more progressive and inclusive crime prevention initiatives. We focus on two exemplars of the intensification of surveillance through zonal governance techniques: ‘major events’ and ‘designated alcohol zones’.


Title of book

Policing cities: urban securitization and regulation in a 21st century world

Chapter number



79 - 96



Place of publication

Abingdon, Eng.







Publication classification

B1 Book chapter

Copyright notice

2013, Taylor & Francis




R Lippert, K Walby