Embassy of Safety at DDW23

Creative lead Tabo Goudswaard about truly making (amends).

Type Update
Published on 4 September 2023
Part of Embassy of Safety
Embassy of Safety at DDW23
Part of Embassy of Safety

An acute shortage of staff in the security domain, living with ex-offenders, co-deciding about how to use the reservoir of community service hours? During Dutch Design Week (DDW23), the Embassy of Safety offers space to be a maker as well as a visitor. In addition to viewing creative approaches to problems in the security domain, you can also share your ideas on how to fix things. Because that is the theme of this edition “Making (amends)”. “And then with a double meaning: making the system well and making amends with people,” points out Tabo Goudswaard, creative leader of the Embassy of Safety.

‘De bijkomende vraag is ook: wat vinden we ‘het goede’? Deze morele gesprekken zijn ook onderdeel van de Embassy of Safety van dit jaar.’

Making (amends)

“Within the security domain, the focus is on people who have made a mistake,” says Goudswaard, “How can they make it right again with victims, and with society? In the security domain, rules are leading. Systems, laws, procedures, protocols … all sorts of measures are made and enforced. At the same time, we also have to ask: what do we consider ‘the right thing’? These moral questions are also part of this year’s Embassy of Safety.”

Maakkracht (the power of making)

Last year the theme was “In Makers We Trust”. During DDW22, the Embassy showed how society becomes safer by relying on the power of creation. “An inspiring slogan for many of our security partners,” said Goudswaard. A theme that forms the basis of the vision of the World Design Embassies (WDE), of which the Embassy of Safety is a part. The power of creation includes qualities that can be used when working on change, says Goudswaard. These qualities are putting things on the agenda, investigating underlying values, proposing how things can be done differently, exploring and testing, and embedding.

Just like last year, the power of making is and will remain part of the Embassy of Safety. The fact that the theme has impacted on partners is evident from, among other things, the Makers Collective launched by the Ministry of Justice and Security last year. A network of designers who work within the government who create space for makership spread across the entire chain of the security domain, from the Ministry but also from the Dutch Probation Service, the Public Prosecution Service, the Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI) and the police. Goudswaard: “They have united in the Makers Collective to enrich work on safety issues using that creative power.” The Makers Collective presents itself in the exhibition of the Embassy of Safety during DDW23.

New skills

The new strategic partner KPMG joined because of the added value of using the power of making. One issue KPMG plans to deploy the power of creation on is the acute shortage of personnel in the security domain, Goudswaard reveals. “We see situations arise throughout the security domain in which implementing organisations such as the DJI, the police and the Ministry of Defence can no longer perform their tasks due to a shortage of personnel. We already know that this will lead to even more undesirable situations in the future. How are we going to ‘fix that’?” “We won’t get there in the current labour market by simply going on trying to solve the problem by recruiting security professionals. We need to look at it fundamentally differently. For example, are there combinations to be made with technology, working differently or using knowledge and skills in society to make the Netherlands safer? This is such an important theme for us that in addition to the Safety Conference on Thursday 26 October, we will be organising an extra conference on Wednesday 25 October”.

Reservoir of community service hours

Last year, the Dutch Probation Service hired designer Emy Bensdorp as a social designer within the policy department. Every year, 2,000,000 community service hours are imposed in the Netherlands. Bensdorp investigates how we can make a social impact by using these hours well. “Emy calls these community service hours a reservoir of enormous potential. Multiply those two million hours by the minimum wage just for fun. What do we want to spend that potential on to make things right with society and to make the Netherlands a little bit better?” Bensdorp is discussing this with employees of the Netherlands Probation Service, those sentenced to work and citizens. This will take place in the Embassy during the DDW, among other places.


The gap between detention and the wide world

Another project that can be experienced at the Embassy is ‘De LOBBY’, an initiative of Exodus, Young in Prison, Stichting Zwerfjongeren Nederland and design agency Afdeling Buitengewone Zaken. It focuses on reducing the gap between detention and return to society. “That transition hasn’t been made very well now,” says Goudswaard, “It’s a fairly rigid separation. It turns out that getting out of prison and entering society is just as nerve-racking as going to prison. For example, there are the risks posed by the former behaviour, not knowing how it works out there, the risk of becoming homeless. How can we restore the connection between criminals and society?”

How can we restore the connection between criminals and society?

Criminals have made mistakes, Goudswaard continues. “What do we need to make things right? Awareness of guilt is very important in this respect, I learned from Reclassering Nederland. The moment you are conscious of guilt and understand what you have done to society, you are much less likely to re-offend. It is a very important step in making society sustainably safer. A step that deserves more attention.”

Resilient entrepreneurs in the countryside

Another theme that the Embassy is working on together with the Province of North Brabant, Platform Veilig Ondernemen and designers from Bureau Zet is the resilience of agricultural entrepreneurs. “As an entrepreneur in the countryside, you have a lot on your plate. We all see the farmers’ protests. When you’re in a pinch, you’re vulnerable. Then you are more likely to give in when pressured by criminals to use that empty barn as a drug lab. We are looking for the values ​​that are at play here. For example, can we work on solidarity? Between entrepreneurs themselves, users of the outlying area and the government?”

Creating on site

During the upcoming edition of DDW23 there will be more creative space, in a literal and figurative sense. That physical space was also there last year, but was limited to one room. This year, each designer and each project has its own physical space to create on site together with the visitors of DDW23. Goudswaard: “That space is important for social design because as a maker you are challenged to shape the interaction with others. So don’t just transmit passively, but seek co-creation with the public, with other designers and with colleagues from the security domain. We really make it!”

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