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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. 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

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putting people at the centre of law reform a case study of the police act review

Putting people at the centre of law reform: a case-study of the Police Act Review

Mike Webb

New Zealand Police

quick context
Quick context
  • Small team based at Police NationalHQ 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”
the wider challenge
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?

specific challenges
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
our strategy
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

?

establishing principles of consultation
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

standalone website
Standalone website
  • Copies of all significant documents relating to the review were uploaded to a dedicated Internet website
  • Arms-length from NZ Policewebsite
  • 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
slide8

Reflect & Propose

Test & Consult

Consult & Propose

issues papers to ground the discussion
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
connecting with the frontline
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
expert forums to elicit deep thought
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
slide12

Symposium on policing futures

  • 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
public research
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
policing directions
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)
awareness raising
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)
spreading the net
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
why a wiki
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
which 2 0 channel
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…?
so did it work
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
other successes and lessons learned
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
no surprises policy 1 multi party briefings
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
no surprises policy 2 talking to the unions
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
no surprises policy 3 public sector briefings
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 35-50 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
recapping our strategy
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

?

have the results lined up with the strategy
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
final thoughts
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