Citizens' jury

Citizens' jury

Citizens’ Juries have developed as a form of participatory research. As with a legal trial, a Citizens’ Jury assumes that if a group of people are presented with evidence, they can evaluate this and draw conclusions that are representative of the wider public.

  • Time to do: 2 to 4 full days
  • Staff: 3
  • Cost£££
  • Equipment: Flip charts, pens, enough meeting space to accommodate break-out discussions
  • large groups
  • face-to-face

How to do it

  • A citizens’ jury will take 2 to 4 days depending on the subject matter so suitable venues and time needed by all participants should be considered at the start.
  • Consider the population effected by your topic and select a representative group of approximately 12 to 25 people giving them information on what is being asked of them.
  • Develop a question important to the issue being considered or a series of options for the jury to consider.
  • Develop briefing packs for delegates and think what you need to make it easy for people to attend, including repayment of expenses, time, carer support etc.
  • Plan pre and post event surveys to benchmark and measure the shift in opinion.
  • Recruit and brief expert witnesses.
  • Engage an independent moderator(s) to assist the process of deliberation.
  • On the first day, brief jurors on the rules of the proceedings and facilitate discussion of the topic.
  • At appropriate points throughout the days, provide expert witnesses to brief the jury in specific areas. The expert witnesses can be cross-examined by the jury members and spend time discussing the issue with them to clarify any points.
  • At the end discussion, agree recommendations.
  • Write up a report and, if appropriate, arrange a presentation to the commissioning body.

Advantages

  • Can be used to draw members of the community into participative processes where the community is distanced from the decision-making process or a process is not seen as being democratic
  • Improves representation in participative processes by engaging a cross-section of the community
  • Can be used to moderate divergence and provide a transparent process for decision making
  • Can be seen to be independent and credible
  • Provides an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of an issue
  • Involves ordinary citizens

Challenges

  • Jury members need to be representative of the community in consideration
  • Setting up involves selecting jurors and experts and planning the timing
  • Independent moderators may be required with associated costs
  • Everyone needs to be clear about the process and the how the results will be used. It takes time at the beginning to plan and organise this.
  • Allow up to 4 days for the jury to consider the verdict
  • The commissioning body must follow the recommendations or explain why
  • Costs can be high

More information

  • The uniqueness of citizens’ juries lies in involving people in developing their knowledge of a specific policy area, asking questions of expert witnesses, collective group discussions and deliberation and reaching a final decision.

  • They are often used alongside other research and public consultation tools such as surveys, interviews and focus groups and are intended to complement other forms of consultation rather than replace them.

Last Updated: 24 February 2020
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