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Risk, Security and the Rule of Law


Entry requirements:

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the master’s programme in Crime and Criminal Justice.

Brief course description:

Over recent decades the Netherlands, in line with the US and the UK, has transformed into a fully-fledged Garlandian-style culture of control. Collective safety and security are dominating both the public and political discourse, thereby contributing to a growing body of actuarial criminal law. Whereas legislation should always be the ‘best response to a specific problem’, that is, the result of a careful process of considering all the values and interests at stake, the current safety and security discourse seems to obstruct this process by propagating the overriding importance of collective safety as a matter of course. The various safeguards embedded in the Dutch legislative procedure do not seem to be able to adequately counterbalance this focus on collective safety. The more serious the perceived criminal threat, the more easily infringements of human rights and civil liberties are accepted, both by the public and by the government. As research has shown, especially with regard to counterterrorism, the possibility and the fear of future terrorist attacks seem to have almost automatically caused the legislator to choose the protection of collective safety and security over the protection of civil liberties.

Jonathan Simon (2007) speaks of governing through crime, referring to the development that policy and legislation are increasingly linked to the pursuit of safety based on the assumption that measures already in place are insufficient to do so. Despite its claimed limited effectiveness with regard to increasing collective safety, the answer to the perceived increase in crime and insecurity is mostly found in a more preventive criminal law, also referred to as actuarial justice. The term actuarial justice refers to the increasing focus within criminal law and criminal justice on the early detection and prevention of possible criminal threats and risks. The development of actuarial justice can be problematic seen from the Rule of Law. Whereas the Government has the responsibility under the Rule of Law to protect its citizens, under the same Rule of Law it is also responsible for drafting legitimate and efficient legislation with all due care and consideration, whilst respecting civil liberties as much as possible.

Mitigating or even infringing civil rights and freedoms by means of legislation, including criminal legislation, in order to protect the foundations of democratic society is in itself neither objectionable nor unthinkable, particularly not in the face of terrorism. However, where extraordinary safety and security risks may require extraordinary legislation, there must be safeguards to ensure that such legislation is also drafted with exceptional care and that it is not simply the result of incident-oriented political impetus aimed at securing a future electorate. Although both collective safety and individual civil liberty should be taken into account by the legislator, in the current culture of control – especially after 9/11 with regard to counterterrorism– only one side of the ‘constitutional medal’ seems to matter. Both in public and political discourse collective safety and individual civil liberty are increasingly seen as mutually exclusive parameters.

This specialism will chart how the complex task of the legislator has become even more complex in the present-day security culture, based on anti-terrorism legislation that has been introduced in the Netherlands since 2001. Where the legislator in implementing new legislation on public order and safety may have inadequately considered both sides of the constitutional coin, both collective security and individual legal protection, this seems to have become more troublesome – and maybe even impossible – as a result of the increased influence of public opinion and populist politics.

Learning objectives:

Aim of the course
The aim of the course is to provide students with insight into the complex process of drafting legislation in the field of public order and safety, seen from the theoretical perspective on the emerging risk society and culture of control. The initial focus will be on the Dutch legislation procedure, but where relevant and in line with the literature, attention will be paid to the European dynamics as well as the legislative procedure in other countries.

Final learning objectives – Students can illustrate the stratification of the Rule of Law and can relate this to the complex task of the legislature; – Students can identify and analyse the complexity of the legislative procedure with regard to legislation in the field of public order and safety; – Students can characterise the various theoretical reflections on the development of the culture of control and are able to use these theoretical insights to reflect critically upon different developments with regard to legislation in the field of public order and safety;
Students are aware of the role criminologists play in both the public and political debate and are able to give substance to this role in an accessible and scientific manner.


Kies voor bachelor en master.

Teaching format

The course consists of five interactive two-hour lectures, during which specific aspects of the literature will be further elaborated upon.

This course comprises four two-hour seminars, in addition to the five lectures mentioned above.
During the seminars, the leitmotiv will be the public role of the criminologist/criminal justice expert as a key factor and a major player in the public and political debate on public order, crime and safety and consequently also in the complex legislative procedure. Using various forms of social media, the students will practise writing scientific articles that are accessible for a more general audience of both citizens and politicians.

A mandatory fieldtrip to the Dutch Parliament and the Council of State.

Examination & grading requirements

Assessment methods
1. Students have to write weekly posts and comments for the course weblog. The audience, including international readers, for which the posts are written differs per week, which means that students have to write for a general public, for politicians, scholars and policy-makers. The rationale behind these shifting perspectives is to create a better understanding of the various conflicting values and interests that – depending on which angle and actor one chooses to focus upon – are at stake in terms of the process of drafting new legislation. During the seminars, the posts will be discussed and further commented upon by means of peer feedback.

  1. Students have to pass a take-home essay. For this essay, students have 48 hours to complete a written advice on a fictional Bill as if they were a member of the Dutch Council of State.

Course grades are determined by:
Weekly assignments and class participation (30%)
Take-home essay (70%)

  • The weekly meetings and fieldtrip must be attended in order to pass this course.

  • All assignments and the take-home essay must be submitted via safe assign (Blackboard)

In preparation for the exam, students need to study all the prescribed literature as well as any audio and video material used.


Bij dit vak wordt gebruik gemaakt van Blackboard.

Reading requirements

  1. B. Hudson & S. Ugelvik eds. (2012) Justice and Security in the 21st Century: Risks, rights and the rule of law (Routledge Studies in Liberty and Security), London: Routledge (256 pp.)
    1. M. Maguire, R. Morgan, R. Reiner (eds.) (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 5th edition, Oxford: OUP
    2. A series of articles and chapters that will be distributed either through Blackboard or in a reader



  • Course Co-ordinator: Dr M.A.H. van der Woude, LL.M.

  • Available: Mon – Fri

  • E-Mail:

  • Phone: 071-5277552

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminology

  • Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30

  • Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail:



Those who are interested in taking this course on a contract basis (including an examination) can obtain further information on costs, registration, conditions, etc. from the website of the “Juridisch PAO”: