Personal tools
You are here: Home VivaCity2020 Toolkit Night Time Economy and Crime: Sheffield

Night Time Economy and Crime: Sheffield


ToolsHouseBased on a paper entitled Sheffield and its Late-Night Economy, written by Dr. Lesley Mackay. For a full copy of this paper, click here. (Microsoft Word document, 416kb)


Developing Sheffield’s late-night economy has been part of the city’s regeneration strategy, which also included the encouragement for residents to settle in the city centre as an attempt to establish ‘city living’. The case study investigates these aspects of regeneration, along with the challenges and issues faced by the city. Issues investigated in the case study include usage conflict in the city centre area, and issues related to creating an attractive, crime-free city centre which caters for all users. Steps have been taken to address this in Sheffield and these are outlined, along with recommendations for planning and managing the development of an inclusive night time economy.


During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Sheffield found itself in economic decline. During the early 1990s a retail-led regeneration began in Sheffield. This was not necessarily a benefit in the long term, as it was insufficient to regenerate the city centre of Sheffield.


The case study looked at the development and management of the late night economy in Sheffield. Interviews were conducted with a selection of people, including council officers and members, police officers, a crime reduction adviser, members of a city centre management team, taxi drivers, residents and businessmen. Observations were conducted by a small group of researchers to see the late night economy first-hand. Also conducted were daytime observations of the late-night venues and environments. Fieldwork was conducted which included conversations with residents, bar staff, waitresses, police officers, visitors, users of the late-night economy, business owners and city centre ambassadors. City Council meetings and planning meetings were attended, along with presentations and a conference. Also undertaken was a tour of central Sheffield with a senior member of their planning department.


As part of Sheffield’s regeneration, more city-centre residents were sought, and a night time economy began to be developed, with the aim to become a 20-hour city (as opposed to a 24-hour city). A key component of the regeneration for Sheffield has been mixed-use premises in some quarters. The City Council aimed to offer usage for as wide a range of users as possible, but mixed-use can create conflicts, for example between residents and late-night venues.

WP3 - Sheff nightObstacles to the development of a thriving late-night economy included a reluctance to issue new club licenses by the Magistrates Committee for a 15-year period, which was addressed by a campaign from Sheffield City Council. Recent night time activity has increased. Debate as to the appropriate location of late-night venues in Sheffield has ensued, with some parties recommending the venues to be concentrated all in one area or quarter, or distributed throughout the city centre. There exist arguments for and against having specific quarters of the city, each with separate emphases, for example retailing, culture, and business.

The case study looked at the need to have a varied ‘offer’ for a successful night-time economy. The evening offer aimed to include aspects of the retail sector, cinemas, theatres, the arts, museums, libraries, cultural and creative activities, hotels and restaurants, casinos, and pubs and clubs.

The dominance of younger residents can be a problem, for instance 30% of city centre residents are students. There can be tensions between the permanent population and the student population, as this can contribute to a change in the atmosphere in the city.

Despite finding the atmosphere of the late-night economy to be lacking in aggressive and intimidating behaviour during fieldwork, the researchers also looked at potential generators of trouble in the night-time economy sectors. Focus was on two areas: the consummation of large quantities of alcohol and drunk people trying to leave the city centre after a night out. When trying to get home late at night, taxis are the only available form of transport. This can lead to problems in the city, due to frustration and lack of provision. During fieldwork the researchers also observed a large amount of incapable people. A need for a calmer atmosphere and more civilised standards of behaviour was identified. Other issues which may generate trouble in the night-time economy also include micro-managing of licensed premises and drinks promotions.

In order to improve the experience of the Sheffield night-time economy, a number of aspects were identified as in need of attention. It was suggested that the city needs to improve its legibility, with more signs, maps and designated safe routes to make the city easier to navigate late at night. The design of some pubs may need to be reconsidered, providing establishments with open-plan arrangements to allow staff to see any potential trouble and identify customers who may have had too much to drink.


The city of Sheffield is trying to regenerate itself while mediating potential conflicts between different user groups and managing the expansion of its night-time economy. The city is facing many challenges for the future, for example keeping the balance between students and the non-student population. Questions are raised by the case study, including: Will Sheffield continue to attract investors and developers? Can it provide more employment for its residents? Will its initiatives be a success?


Police and the City Council of Sheffield claim that the city is safe, but still some issues are prevalent, including drunkenness, litter and street urination. Initiatives to combat such issues have been implemented to a degree of success, but there is still a need for further steps towards improvement. The case study then lists a number of recommendations for improvement.

ToolsHouseBased on a paper entitled Sheffield and its Late-Night Economy, written by Dr. Lesley Mackay. For a full copy of this paper, click here. (Microsoft Word document, 416kb)

BackHouseBack to Case Studies
Document Actions