QOTD on Risk & the State

How safe people feel depends, amongst other things, on whether they trust the institutions that make statements about risks. This applies to the assessment of the safety of technical systems as well as to food or public safety. Transparent communication of the risk assessment process with the participation of all the stakeholders and of the derived risk avoidance measures is, therefore, important in order to tackle the frequent discrepancy between the individual’s perceived degree of safety and the objectively measured degree of safety. This is particularly the case when questions are asked about which risk is acceptable and how much protection should be offered. In this context risk communication must not only reduce the gap between the individually perceived lack of safety and the objective level of safety. It must also highlight the limits to state action and demonstrate that increased safety for instance in the fields of crime prevention and public security may entail a loss of freedom or self-determination. Particularly in the field of precautionary measures this is a difficult balancing act. Where does the state’s duty of care end and where does state paternalism begin? The experts at the conference were not able to provide a definitive answer to these questions. -- Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Germany. Slides from Stakeholder Conference “Safer than safe? Legislation, Perception and Reality of State Risk Prevention” are available (in German) on the BfR website at www.bfr.bund.de
Src: How safe is safe? Conference explores the opportunities and limits of state risk prevention

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