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Citizens’ juries

A Jury (12-16 members), made up of a small panel of independent people who are  non-specialists, carefully examine and discuss an issue of public significance and deliver a “verdict”. They are brought together to examine both written and verbal evidence about different perspectives on the issue they are deliberating on. This will include a full range of opinions, often in the form of worked up options on what should be done about the issue. The Jury will receive information which is presented through witness presentations (including community representatives and HSC decision makers), followed by question and answer sessions. Juries are not designed to create a consensus amongst the jurors, but there does tend to be a momentum towards consensus.

In a four-day process, day one is largely about bringing jurors up to speed on the issue. Days two and three tend to focus on witness presentations about different ways of dealing with the issue. Most of the fourth day is spent by the Jury developing its recommendations. After which, the Jury develop a report, outlining conclusions and recommendations, which is discussed with HSC decision makers.

This approach is used where there is a live public policy issue and opinion is sharply divided with policy makers not being able to decide how to proceed.

PositivesNegativesWill deliverWill not deliverCase studies
  • Gives an informed public opinion about how a difficult issue should be tackled;
  • Enables decision-makers to understand what informed members of the public might regard as realistic solutions;
  • The results can also be used to generate wider public debate about the issues.
  • Only involves a very small number of people, which means that the wider public may still hold a less informed view;
  • A challenge for policy makers is how to reconcile these two different public voices to create wider public ownership of the jurors’ recommendations;
  • It can also be difficult for policy makers to decide how to proceed if they reject the Jury’s recommendations;
  • In addition to preparation time, a Citizen’s jury may take up to four days;
  • Requires a facilitator.
  • Decision-making that better reflects the public’s views;
  • A high profile example of public engagement.
  • Wider democratic engagement and empowerment.

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