Ivo Aertsen

Ivo Aertsen

Emeritus Professor, University of Leuven (Belgium)

Ivo Aertsen is Emeritus Professor of Criminology at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He holds degrees of psychology, law and criminology from the same university. At the Leuven Institute of Criminology he has been leading the Research Line on ‘Restorative Justice and Victimology’ from 2001 to 2019. He has been chair of the European Forum for Restorative Justice from 2000 to 2004, and has coordinated various European research projects and a series of international publications. He has been involved as expert in restorative justice related work for international institutions such as the Council of Europe, the European Union and United Nations. He is Co-Editor of ‘The International Journal of Restorative Justice’ and one of the initiators of ‘Leuven Restorative City’.

  • Do you have any specific hopes or predictions for the future of urban security? (What will urban security look like in 30 years? What will be the main opportunities and risks?)

My hope is that cities develop security practices in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders including research institutes. In this complex field, practice and policy development cannot go without conceptual work and sound theoretical reflection. ‘Security’ has to be considered not as an external threat or something to be ‘managed’ or ‘controlled’ or ‘delivered’ by public authorities, but as something that is continuously constructed by all involved. Active involvement and participation can offer an opportunity for citizens to shape their experiences, practices and understandings of ‘security’. 

  • Why do you think it is so important to involve citizens in urban security practice?

We have to enhance the democratic potential of our cities, and insecurity threats, polarisation and conflict can offer unique opportunities to adopt and to apply new, restorative oriented attitudes and skills for citizens and local authorities. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to create spaces and to offer support for citizens to meet, to deliberate and to actively participate in the resolution of conflicts, be it at the interpersonal, the neighbourhood or the broader community level.