Knowledge hub Security and Social Resilience

The Knowledge Hub Security and Social Resilience (in Dutch: Kenniswerkplaats Veiligheid & Veerkracht (KVV) assists the Dutch government and its ministries on the national level, as well as municipalities, the police force and security regions on the local level in their approach to security problems.

The knowledge hub focuses on complex issues such as social conflicts in neighbourhoods, enforcement and surveillance management, radicalisation, citizen participation, criminal infiltration, and how security is experienced. Working collaboratively with public-private partners towards co-created and custom-made policy and practice-oriented solutions, the knowledge hub aims to provide useful and novel insights, frameworks and tools. The research projects shed light on the social fabric and mechanisms that enable governments and society to adequately anticipate on new challenges and 'wicked problems'.

The Knowledge Hub Security and Social Resilience is distinguished by its multidisciplinary approach. VU researchers and experts from the Verwey-Jonker Institute are closely connected with organizations such as the Foundation for Society and Safety, Integral Safety Science at University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and the Dutch Centre for Crime Prevention and Safety. This network strives to find evidence-based answers to fundamental questions regarding social issues like:

  • Feelings of social unease and social conflicts – security is largely subjective, and thus 'lived': people feel insecure, or are scared or angry. What does this mean for security policies?
  • Criminal infiltration and radicalization - criminals are infiltrating the legal domain more often, whereas citizens no longer fully accept the government’s authority. As a result, the democratic state and the rule of law are under pressure. How should the government deal with this?
  • The police and its partners – special investigative officers, private security officers, public transport security teams and others cooperate with the police. How do they relate to one another and what are their 'best practices'?
  • Security networks - the police, the municipalities, health care providers and housing associations are all committed to deliver a safe and secure but still a comfortable neighborhood. How do these networks function, and how could they be enhanced?
  • Citizen participation and safety - neighbourhood watch, WhatsApp groups and prevention teams are popular, which can help to increase the trust in governance, but might simultaneously lead to a 'vigilante justice' as well. What are the possibilities and limitations?
  • Security through solidarity - security policies usually involve protecting citizens from each other, yet much less is known about security as protection with, by and for each other. To which extent, for instance, does restorative justice, such as volunteers accompanying ex-detainees or neighbourhood mediation initiatives, contribute to a more secure and safer society?
"Resilience comes from robust networks. The main thing is to organize these networks well based on knowledge and trust in effective collective action."
Prof. dr. Hans Boutellier
  • Criminogeneity measurement - behind the crime figures lie patterns of criminogeneity that comprise social causes for criminal behaviour. With existing quantitative information on criminogenic factors, preventive policy priorities can be determined;
  • From back to front- a governance model that can be used to map the security field and to discuss the specific division of roles between parties;
  • Security arrangements – based on a football team metaphor, we developed a strategic model to reach collaborative agreements on concrete neighbourhood problems;
  • Effectiveness of networks - most security problems require cooperation between multiple parties. We developed a yardstick in order to test the effectiveness of the process and its benefits;
  • Social diagnosis / treatment combinations – based on a quantitative and qualitative diagnosis of a problem, and together with the parties involved, an action strategy is developed that is aimed at interventions; a strategy that is supported by those involved themselves.
"Security is a basic need that requires the best possible organization."
Dr. Ronald van Steden

The Knowledge Hub Security and Social Resilience is an initiative of the Institute for Societal Resilience (ISR) and the Verwey-Jonker Institute. It is linked to the Chair of Security & Resilience of VU professor Hans Boutellier, who is also director of the Verwey-Jonker Institute. We are building on the completed VU research programme Security & Citizenship and the first conference of Security and Resilience which was held on 13 June 2016. During this conference, security professionals and researchers developed a research agenda that, where possible, will be continued in projects undertaken by the Knowledge Hub.

"In collaboration with frontline professionals, researchers will work to address contemporary problems in municipalities."

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  • Solidarity in Superdiverse Oude Noorden (Old North) Rotterdam; 
  • feelings of social unease in Amsterdam; 
  • Public-private Cooperation in Times of Diffuse Threat;
  • Inclusion and Social Participation of Vulnerable Youth.
The knowledge hub is open to research questions, knowledge development and building custom policy instruments.

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