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Stilzwijgen onder toezichthouders

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, Aflevering 2 2012
Trefwoorden secrecy, denial, silence, monitoring
Auteurs Henk van de Bunt
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article examines the silence of control agents. It is often said that control agents as representatives of the risk society are obsessed with control activities and fact-finding, and that rule breakers are regularly exposed by negative publicity. The author takes the contrary position that even major cases demonstrate the persistence of silence on the part of control agents. He distinguishes between two types of silence: denial and secrecy. Denial means that control agents saw nothing while they could have discovered wrongdoing. He points to the fact that this denial in the face of knowledge is the result of sociological ambivalence: control agents are often forced to reconcile conflicting interests, which supersede the importance of supervision. The article shows that secrecy plays an important role in trust relationships between control agents and the objects of their supervision. Secrecy enables control agents to better obtain information. In effect, with regard to the supply of information and the scrutiny of the objects under supervision, control agents are dependent on the cooperativeness of the objects of supervision. These days, much emphasis is placed on breaking the walls of silence. Perpetrators, victims and witnesses, as well as control agents, are being encouraged to break the silence through the use of star witness arrangements, whistleblower arrangements, witness protection, and reporting centres. But is this effective? The author suggests that maintaining secrecy is essential and that those measures limit the space for control agents to develop trust relationships with the objects of supervision, and thereby the opportunity to engage in fact-finding.


Henk van de Bunt
Prof. dr. Henk van de Bunt is hoogleraar criminologie aan de Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. E-mail:vandebunt@law.eur.nl
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