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Putting people at the centre of law reform: a case-study of the Police Act Review Mike Webb New Zealand Police.

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Presentation on theme: "Putting people at the centre of law reform: a case-study of the Police Act Review Mike Webb New Zealand Police."— Presentation transcript:

1 Putting people at the centre of law reform: a case-study of the Police Act Review Mike Webb New Zealand Police

2 Quick context Small team based at Police National HQ reviewing/rewriting the Police Act 1958 Representing the interests of Minister of Police and Commissioner of Police Aim: “start a conversation about different communities’ expectations of policing” Outcome: “this will allow New Zealanders to articulate what kind of police service they want, and to give them a direct voice in shaping the kind of legislative arrangements that can help deliver that style of policing”

3 The wider challenge Some might say that a project to review and rewrite policing legislation is: Dry Boring Complex Distant from the lives of ordinary Kiwis just how wrong can some people be?

4 Specific challenges To generate interest in the review Raise awareness in ‘hard to reach’ and ‘hard to hear’ populations (e.g., youth, Māori and Pacific peoples) with A modest budget for communications An expectation orthodox comms and consultation paths would be followed, because it is a government project

5 Our strategy ? Develop principles of consultation (and then, just as importantly, stick to them) No surprises approach, where possible “Become a bit like Switzerland” Pursue traditional and non-traditional consultation channels Exploit free/low cost media channels Front foot every media opportunity Generate momentum through the steady release of interesting papers

6 Establishing principles of consultation A two-way process Those leading the consultation must engage and listen Respect Achieving successful stakeholder involvement is based on respect for those communicated with Opportunity Reasonable time and sufficient opportunity must be given to express views Openness Demonstrating an open mind and a willingness to change where appropriate is essential to building trust

7 Standalone website Copies of all significant documents relating to the review were uploaded to a dedicated Internet website Arms-length from NZ Police website Extra functionality allowed for online responses to consultation documents A single portal for key project-related information helped with reducing misunderstandings about the review, and reduced need for OIA requests

8 Test & Consult Reflect & Propose Consult & Propose

9 Issues Papers to ground the discussion Eight papers –Posed 120+ consultation questions Publicly released over six months Also channel marketed to identified key stakeholders: –Justice sector agencies and other partner organisations –Local government –Police staff –Communities of interest –NGOs

10 Connecting with ‘the frontline’ To further keep the review grounded, a group of 16 frontline officers was gathered from around New Zealand Largely operated as a virtual group, but also brought together in Wellington The frontliners regularly tested ideas, assumptions and language … which was particularly important re: making sure key messages were understood

11 Expert forums to elicit deep thought Review team partnered with Victoria University’s Schools of Government, Law and Institute of Criminology; plus AUT’s School of Social Sciences Aim: a neutral third party to host explorative discussions on complex topics Really useful for ‘testing the waters’ Three topic meetings were held, with anonymised notes posted on the dedicated Police Act Review website

12 Success of university-based events prompted a larger, open format, event to bring the wider discussion together Police and VUW co-hosted international symposium on policing for the future Helped hook in new comms champions Symposium on policing futures

13 Public research Started mid 2006 by UMR Research Ltd Capturing views of Kiwis on what sort of police service they want and expect Primarily qualitative research (e.g., focus groups), but with quantitative aspects (e.g., household surveys) Sample included mix of gender, ethnicity, age, urban/rural, victim/non-victim, etc. Very useful for calibrating messages and refining some of the public policy choices

14 Policing Directions Major public consultation document released in May 2007 More than 80 public meetings held nationwide to raise awareness; some ‘piggybacking’ off partner meetings 1200 people attended the meetings In the end, 234 submissions received Results of consultation exercise were written up in Public views on policing document (August 2007)

15 Awareness raising Radio advertisements run on 180 different stations around the country Print advertisements in 16 daily papers Quarter page ad in Sunday Star Times during middle of consultation period Non-traditional channels also exploited: e.g., 30” item screened on Health TV in 85 GPs’ waiting rooms (reaching 100K+) Aided by mainstream media pick-up (e.g., op ed commentary by review team members was printed in 90 daily papers)

16 Spreading the net Summary booklet translated into Māori Pamphlet highlighting key proposals also translated into 10 other languages Youth efforts –Debating competitions for secondary school and university students –National student essay competition –MYD involvement (e.g., making use of the Aotearoa Youth Voices website) Wiki Policing Bill

17 Why a wiki? In March 2006, we held a thought storming session to generate ideas Challenge: how do we connect with 4 million New Zealanders for $5? Examples of ideas we came up with: green graffiti, free bus advertising, milk-cartons, ATM machine receipts, a mascot … and the use of Web 2.0

18 Which 2.0 Channel? YouTube and MySpace accounts failed to generate real engagement Turned to the idea of a wiki as a low cost, easy-to-set-up, medium Complementary to other, more traditional, consultation efforts Ability to reach difficult to engage members of the community Cutting edge of e-democracy…?

19 So: did it work? Attracted a lot of interest to the review Brought in some fresh ideas and further helped to refine existing ideas but Required extensive moderation effort and it brought in some pretty silly ideas Drew in irrelevant international and expat thinking into the review process Seen by cynics as just a gimmick

20 Other successes and lessons learned What worked well? What didn’t? And what may we do differently next time? Some of our ‘best buys’ were: The one-stop-shop standalone website (www.policeact.govt.nz) Calibrating messages regularly with key audiences, and doing everything possible to avoid any nasty surprises Not letting a comms vacuum develop

21 No surprises policy 1: Multi-party briefings At key stages throughout the review the Minister offered one-on-one briefings to other political parties Emphasised need for Police to serve the government of the day, whatever its political complexion All Police Act Review papers were distributed to all parliamentary political parties, and research units

22 No surprises policy 2: Talking to the unions Early engagement was key to building a high-trust relationship A full-time Police Association representative embedded with the review team, with full access to all meetings and project materials Regular briefings provided to other service organisations, as required

23 No surprises policy 3: Public sector briefings Five briefings held at points during the project for wider public sector Open invitation to all public sector CEOs to send a representative Usually attended by people Allowed agencies with an interest in discrete issues (e.g., IRD) to keep in contact with the review, and ask questions in a secure environment

24 Recapping our strategy Develop principles of consultation (and then, just as importantly, stick to them) No surprises approach, where possible “Become a bit like Switzerland” Pursue traditional and non-traditional consultation channels Exploit free/low cost media channels Front foot every media opportunity Generate momentum through the steady release of interesting papers ?

25 Have the results lined up with the strategy? From our point of view – yes Profile raised, ideas generated, consultation increased, at low cost Consultation ethics maintained A firmer and fuller base of ideas generated, plus greater consensus built for new policing legislation And, fingers crossed, the Policing Bill is set for enactment very soon

26 Political recognition

27 Final thoughts … Putting people at the centre of law reform projects is a good thing to do It’s also more fun and stimulating for those working on the project, rather than living in a risk-averse bubble Treating people with respect and being open will get you a long way Relentless enthusiasm is the best antidote to seeming indifference


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