Response with responsibility

Policy-making for public risk in the 21st century

Source: Risk & Regulation Advisory Council

Part of Summary (quote)

“The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council has been leading an experimental offensive against the mishandling of risk in society. It looked at how distorted perceptions of risks can encourage poor policy-making and unnecessary laws, leading people to feel that Government is interfering too much in their lives.

The Council identified five trends that contribute to breakdowns in the appropriateness and effectiveness of policy-making:
• Risk actors who, through their actions and interactions, shape perceptions of and responses to public risk. A small subset of these actors are active ‘risk-mongers’, who wilfully distort perceptions and this can endanger the policy making-process.
• The streams of data, information and opinion which can distort perceptions of risk and scare people away from managing risks themselves.
• The intolerance of failure that lead to yet more red tape and restrictions on people’s behaviour.
• The pressure on government to act hastily.
• The risk of removing responsibility from individuals, with the potential consequence of reducing community resilience.

Strong leadership from the Government is necessary to counter these trends and to achieve robust and appropriate policies.

The Council has developed an approach to help government and to help the public, and has shown how successful this can be. This approach means taking a step back from the immediate concern, recognising the wide range of groups that can combine to influence responses to a risk, and incorporating them actively into the policy- making process…”

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