Public-private partnerships in times of diffuse threat

International affairs / Counterterrorism

Public-private partnerships in times of diffuse threat

A study on the diversity of working methods and opportunities in the Dutch and Flemish context (full text only available in Dutch)


In recent years, Europe has been the stage of several terrorist attacks. Mostly soft targets were hit: open locations where large groups of people gather, making it hard to secure them. Examples are shopping areas, football stadiums, event grounds, public transport, airports, the hospitality industry, but also museums, universities, religious institutions and government buildings. The variety of potential targets and the diversity of potential perpetrators (organizations, networks or lone wolfs), their motives (think, for instance, of jihadism or right-wing extremism) and modus operandi (such as gun violence, explosives, trucks and stabbings) generate a diffuse threat.

Since March 2013, the threat level in the Netherlands has been substantial, which means that the chance a terrorist attack will take place is real. Just like in other countries, the Dutch (national) government aims to prevent attacks. It also aims to prevent the social disruption caused by an attack or to shorten its duration as much as possible. The financial and personal means for keeping targets safe are scarce. As it is impossible for the government to carry out these responsibilities and tasks on its own, it looks for support among private parties. In this way, forms of public-private cooperation (PPC) on safety have evolved that can be found in public transport, at large events and around ‘sensitive’ religious institutions.

The objective of this study is to gain insight into the relevant working methods and experiences regarding PPC for guarding and securing soft targets in times of an (increasing) diffuse threat.

Publication data

Steden, R. van, Meijer, R., Broekhuizen, J.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Institute of Societal Resilience , Verwey Jonker Instituut, WODC
Place of publication:
Verwey Jonker Instituut
Year of publication:

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