The relationship between the police and the public is regarded as essential if the police are to serve the public fairly, effectively, and efficiently. Police forces should recognise the importance of engaging with a wide range of communities and listening to different views about what they should be doing. Police forces often describe community engagement as part of everything they do and place high importance on developing and maintaining public trust and confidence. However, conflict can arise for various reasons. The public are not always fully-informed about the pressures police work under, including resource constraints and new and emerging risks and harms. Similarly the police do not always understand the perspectives of some members of the public about what they should prioritise, how they should work and what they and their communities need from the police. Sometimes relationships between police and members of the communities they serve can break down, and become marked by low confidence and a lack of trust.
Embedding public engagement in the work of the N8 Policing Research Partnership is a way of recognising the vital importance of the public to policing. The public engagement strand of the N8 PRP seeks to work with police forces and members of the public to facilitate knowledge sharing and the identification of good practice in police-community engagement activities. It also aims to explore public attitudes towards the idea of policing being based on evidence generated by universities. What role do the public think universities and other research organisations should play in informing and supporting police work?
The public engagement activity strand will address these issues in two ways:
- By supporting and facilitating reflection on community engagement strategy and practice within police partner organisations, helping to establish a police-community engagement network for the North of England to embed knowledge sharing beyond the life of the Catalyst Project.
- By producing and disseminating new knowledge about public perspectives on how university research can and should inform policing. New knowledge will be produced using a combination of quantitative survey-based methods and more qualitative approaches, including convening a number of deliberative events to discuss important policing issues.
Engaging the public with policing, and policing research, can never be a one-off activity. It will always be complex, time-consuming and, ultimately, unfinished. It is also resource intensive. The activities of the Public Engagement Strand will attempt to embed sustainable mechanisms for continuing to develop and share new ideas about how police can best engage different communities. They will also test out different ways of thinking about relationships between university-based researchers and police policy and practice, and generate new knowledge about how the public perceive these relationships.
Deliberative Events Opportunities
Has your involvement with the N8PRP produced questions you would like to consult the public on? If so, resources are available through the Public Engagement Strand to design a deliberative consultation to engage the public with the issues you are interested in.
What is a deliberative consultation?
Last year, the Public Engagement Strand (led by Dr. Liz Turner at the University of Liverpool) trialled a relatively quick deliberative consultation approach in relation to two policing issues (restorative disposals and 20mph speed limit enforcement). These initial events allowed us to test our approach and identify what worked well and what didn’t. The approach we have developed involves 12-18 members of the public being provided with relevant information and evidence about the issue on which they are being consulted and being supported to deliberate about and come to a view (or views) in relation to the issue. The consultations will usually take place on two separate days or evenings and will take around 6 hours of the participants’ time.
What is on offer and what would I have to do?
The Public Engagement Strand has the resources to carry out up to three deliberative consultations during 2019 providing an opportunity for N8PRP researchers and police partners to have us apply what we have learned to a topic where they are keen to understand what the public think.
To make the events work well we need we need event sponsors (people who have questions they want to consult the public on) who are committed to listening to the views of the participants, and willing to work with and support the Public Engagement team (for example by identifying and contacting relevant subject experts to be involved, helping with recruitment and venue hire in your local area if appropriate).
Public engagement is an important part of the N8PRP’s work so the resource is there to deliver these events. All that we ask is that event sponsors (who can be from police forces, OPCCs, or university-based researchers) are willing to give their time to work collaboratively with us on the design of the event and to embrace the deliberative ethos, including the need for expert speakers who reflect different positions on the issue for discussion.
If you are interested in getting involved then please email the N8PRP Project Manager – Steph Abraham providing a short description of the issue you would like to consult the public on and why.
For more information about the Public Engagement Strand please contact Dr Liz Turner.
Alternatively, the latest strand updates can be found below: