Citizen Inquiries

Shared Future are leaders in the field of Citizen Inquiries and Citizens’ Juries.

These deliberative processes involve local residents, citizens and service users in discussing, hearing evidence and making proposals around often highly contested issues of public policy.

Following best practice learnt over many years, they produce insightful results that would not be achieved through a consultation, focus group or survey. In addition, the process nearly always produces a group of enthusiastic motivated residents interested in taking action.

A citizen inquiry in progress

The three main elements of a Citizen Inquiry

A citizen inquiry or ‘jury’ is typically made up of a group of around 20 diverse people selected at random. In an informal and relaxed setting members of the jury share knowledge, expertise and opinions before questioning a series of ‘commentators’ (also known as expert witnesses) — specialists they have called to provide different perspectives on the inquiry topic.

Where possible the ‘jury’ seeks consensus before collectively producing a set of recommendations that are shared widely and action planned at a stakeholders conference. Thereby influencing public policy or the commissioning of public services.

Shared Future can facilitate Inquiries on a huge range of topics. In fact, on any topic. As the facilitators we stand apart from making recommendations, and see our role primarily as supporting the quality of the deliberation and making sure best practice is followed.

Our track record on Citizen Inquiries

Beth Perry presenting on Jam and Justice

Our associates, led by Peter Bryant and Nick Beddow, have run many citizen inquiries in their extensive careers. Our testimonials page points to how well they have been received by commissioners.

In 2013 and 2014, Shared Future ran the Morecambe and Fleetwood Alcohol inquiries. We’ve since  facilitated the Wirral Alcohol Inquiry, a Citizens’ Jury for the West Midlands Mental Health Commission, and into Fracking in Preston. We completed another inquiry in Hastings in early 2017, again on the theme of alcohol use.

In 2017 Shared Future also released the first report of the Central Blackpool Health and Well-being Inquiry. This has led to many more inquiries being run across all areas of Blackpool, focussed on remodelling Community Orientated Primary Care and building a culture of co-production, work which is ongoing. We also produced a significant literature review into best practice in citizen-led deliberation.

In 2018 we completed the Greater Manchester based Inquiry into Care at Home, (an adaption, or inversion, of our proven model, to engage health professionals in making recommendations to redesign the Care at Home system in Greater Manchester) and also delivered the Our Voice Inquiry into Shared Decision-Making in Scotland. In 2019 we are continuing to work in Blackpool on the theme of remodelling community orientated primary care. That work now including workshops on co-production for officers, as well as supporting residents to take action on the recommendations themselves.

This year we have focussed much of our work on climate change, and currently supporting a number of Local Authorities in implementing Climate Emergency inquiries. We have advised Extinction Rebellion on its call for citizen assemblies, held webinars and written a number of blogs on the topic. We continue to deliver Health and Social Care inquiries. In May 2019 we also ran a large scale seminar on the topic of citizen inquiries and health and social care commissioning in collaboration with Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and the NW Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. In November 2019 we published the report of the Leeds Climate Commission Citizen’s Jury.

Our citizen inquiry work is led by Peter Bryant, who has worked on more than 20 citizens’ jury style processes over the last 10 years, on a variety of topics including alcohol harm reduction, access to healthy food, nanotechnology, well-being, hate crime and on improving the community engagement work of public bodies.