Embassy of Safety
Those who commit crimes will be punished. It’s been that way since time immemorial and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. Is that actually true? No. Societies have employed alternatives to punishment throughout the ages. So-called ‘sanctuaries’, for example, facilitated reconciliation between parties by enforcing rules that protected the offenders and victims alike. Slowly but surely, these historical ideas are making a comeback. For example, community service is now a way for offenders to repay their debt to society. And restorative justice is emerging as a serious alternative to punishment. This process takes into consideration the perspective of the offender and the victim. In fact, reconciliation makes a great deal of sense because after a crime the parties involved want to move on, which is hard to do if they’re still in conflict.
Yet, the process of correcting mistakes and making amends is still the exception to the rule in the Netherlands. And that’s a shame because it works. It’s beneficial not only for those involved but also for society as a whole. Those who understand how their actions have impacted others and have managed to reconcile with them are far less likely to be repeat offenders. That’s why we’re searching for additional ways of making amends.
Maakkracht (the power of making)
In recent years, it has become apparent that the professionals in the ‘security chain’ are not always up to the task at hand. Finding enough security professionals is also difficult. Subversive crime is encroaching more and more into all of our daily lives. By contrast, our governmental systems are sometimes so rigid that innocent citizens become victims of state interventions. Isn’t it time to examine our existing approaches critically and ask ourselves what we hope to achieve with them? Are we really doing ‘the right thing’?
For the partners of this Embassy, it could not be clearer: tackling crime has grown increasingly complex; therefore, we cannot carry on as we always have. More than ever, we need new ways of working. That’s why we’re searching for additional ways of making amends.
And for that, the Embassy of Safety is relying upon the power of makers. Our ambition, in direct co-creation with society, is to effect positive changes to help transform complex safety issues. We’ve radically reversed the traditional approach to problem-solving: begin not with the solution, but with the drive of the human being. When people undertake an activity on their own, without knowing where it will lead, this not only provokes change but also sparks the process of learning by doing. That’s the power of making. And we’re all, each and every one of us, a maker.
This narrative is written in collaboration with The Makers Collective of Justice and Security.