Concerns about contemporary democracy and citizen participation have led to what has been described as an increasing ‘deliberative wave’ across the world. New institutional forms, democratic innovations such as deliberative mini-publics, have been used to enable informed public involvement in decision-making. In the UK and Ireland, governments and other public bodies are commissioning mini-publics- citizen assemblies, juries and panels - to engage the public at national and local levels on a wide range of policy issues. Drawing on his experience with, and research on, mini-publics in Scotland, Nick reflects on what we can learn from these experiments in deliberative democracy. He considers whether and how they might influence the work of public servants and other professionals. Looking particularly at the police as an example, he considers the opportunities for new ways to engage with, and involve, the public. And he considers questions about the role of academics in informing the public, and about public understanding of research evidence in deliberative approaches.
Dr Nick Bland is Research Adviser to the Local Governance Review at the Scottish Government and part of the research team evaluating the Citizens Assembly of Scotland. He is a Visiting Professor at the School of Applied Sciences, Napier University; and was co-director at What Works Scotland, University of Edinburgh, where he was a visiting Professor. He works across the boundaries of research, policy and practice with research interests in citizen participation, local governance, democratic innovation, partnership-working and prevention, with specific application to policing.