RISE post, Security policies

Rethinking security policies and security models

Written by: RISE

The socio-economic landscape we live in is increasingly complex and globalized. Power structures and decision-making schemes have been starkly altered in the recent past, making any effort to curb the negative effects of the current economic model all the more challenging.

Structural violence and structural inequality phenomena, as well as the State efforts to shield capitalism from its recurring crises have given birth and cemented law and order-based security policies, focusing on punitive solutions that criminalize particularly vulnerable segments of the population. This public security model has both largely ignored the urgent need to solve social and political conflicts, and overlooked manifestations of violence which are endogenous to the current system, such as violence against women and economic and financial criminal activities.

Insecurity is an enduring and recurring problem characterizing our societies. Yet, the proposals arising from either the dominant security policies and models or the emergent totalitarian political platforms do not adequately address and solve this insecurity conundrum. On the contrary, they contribute to make things worse.

Unable to offer effective solutions, these political arrangements foster short-term preventative proposals frequently coupled with rights and freedoms restrictions having an impact on the public as a whole. Aiming to raise their security standards, wide swathes of the public are willing to embrace these basic rights restrictions. Evidently, this political stance risks further nourishing punitive demands, leading to state coercion abuses and potentially totalitarian law-order policies which cannot be easily dismantled. In addition, these policies push social prevention policies and actors into the background of the public security policy field, and hinder collaborative efforts aimed at collectively design and evaluate security policies.

This concerning scenario is further compounded by the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which has resulted in new worrisome solutions, such as e.g. the involvement of military units – instead of civil protection units – in managing emergency services. This has given a new boost to political doctrines calling for the active involvement of the military in managing domestic conflicts.

This public health crisis has laid bare that state agencies frequently adopt fear-inducing and patronizing schemes, instead of resorting to community enhancing policies that may enable the active, democratic involvement of the public in the management of collective issues. Safeguarding basic freedoms unavoidably entails coping with a certain degree of uncertainty and insecurity. Giving up freedom in exchange of security leads us all to enduringly embrace paternalistic solutions that stand at odds with democratic societal models.

Counterbalancing these developments, a wide variety of social and political movements, such as feminist networks, groups advocating equality and civil rights, and movements against racism and climate change, are garnering increasing global traction to the point of becoming critical actors to engender a robust alternative to current security and policing models.

In addition, a number of innovative security policies recently implemented in various nations and cities, featuring varying degrees of consolidation, deserve to be taken into consideration, explored, strengthened and disseminated.    

RISE’s main fields of innovation

As was previously pointed out, we endeavor to set up innovative security policy schemes, by fostering new conceptualizations and proposals, characterized by specific, feasible, and evidence-based solutions to manage violence and crime.

In so doing, we should revise the implementation of population control models, abandon punitive populism frameworks, and shift from a tactic preventative perspective to a cause neutralization viewpoint, integrating policies developed in various local, regional, national, and international settings.

We ought to tailor individual-focused security policies, by taking into account the active role to be played by crime victims, rethinking the reparation and problem-solving performance of the security system, and ensuring access to a plural and fair justice system.

We demand to abandon securitarian practices eroding the rights of marginalized and discriminated groups.

We advocate for inclusive policies, in which non-discrimination and gender-based perspectives are critical, and in which long overlooked communities and social groups should take center stage. In this framework, requirements limiting access to citizenship rights should be overcome, for they increase insecurity for wide swathes of the public. Security policies should ensure that human rights are respected by all state agencies, not least by granting access to effective means of protection.

Accountability and – political, statistical, and information – transparency schemes ought to be refined, so as to both cement trust, and responsibility and participation models, and consolidate accountability models providing accessible and understandable information to the public as a whole.

In this regard, security forces have a critical role to play. However, their professional cultures should be urgently shifted and redefined. It is no less urgent to wholly reframe the criminal justice system, by articulating its various dimensions (e.g., law-making, criminal justice agencies, police management, and prison management) in line with the interests of both victims and defendants. In addition, the objectives and outcomes of penal policies, including their criminal law-making and penal prosecution aspects, should be rethought.

Moreover, the long standing and required differentiation of domestic security and external (military) security fields recommends abandoning any effort aimed at involving military forces in the management of urban security, public order, and domestic conflict issues.

Security is a multifaceted notion involving many institutional and social actors. Consequently, policies in this field should take into account the various security dimensions and shield the material conditions safeguarding the right to a decent life. In addition, these policies should adopt a multi-situated perspective on every step of security management procedures such as diagnosis, design, implementation, and evaluation, keeping an eye on the relation between these tasks and other public policies.

Finally, in a global environment in which conservative forces and their allied mass media frame security debates in dichotomous and simplifying terms, we should aim to both democratize information access and promote wide, informed conversations on security policies. These goals, which aim to both collectively elaborate public security policy solutions and alter the dominant patterns in this field, gave birth to RISE, International Network for Innovation in Security.

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