Technique of the week #3 – Citizens Jury

This week’s technique is the a Citizens Jury.

What’s it all about? 

A Citizens Jury is a deliberative technique that encourages people to come together to discuss  (often complicated) policy decisions. The great advantage of the Citizens Jury process is that it yields citizen input from a group that is both informed about an issue and a microcosm of the public.’ – The Jefferson Centre

How does it work?

A group of people (anything from 18-24 individuals) are brought together to discuss an issue, for example proposed changes to complex surgery for children.   They would ideally be recruited so as to represent a microcosm of the public they are aiming to represent.  Normally they would be reimbursed for their time. 

The jury would spend several days together.  During this time they will hear from expert witnesses and have time to deliberate together on the issues at hand.  At the end of the process they will present their decisions or findings to decision makers.

How to prepare?

To work well this process needs good quality, accessible and well-presented information.  The Jurors will need to this so that they can improve their understanding of the decisions to be made, cross examine expert witness effectively and ask insightful questions. 

The process also requires a good facilitator who can ensure that the Jury stays on task.  The facilitator may also help the Jury if they needed more information or if they felt that they needed assistance with their deliberations.

Citizens Juries have been around for many years but they can now benefit from social media and live streaming.  This allows their deliberations and decisions to be made in full view of the public, widening participation and the transparency of the process.

Practical matters like venues, food, drink, refreshments also matter a lot.

When to use?

This process works well when informed opinion matters.  Many decisions made about changes to health and social care can based on complex information and interdependencies.  A Citizen Jury allows for public participation in such issues but also places more value on their feedback, because they are able to consider the complex detail, challenge and question. 

It could also be useful when a citizen viewpoint is needed for comparison with the opinion of people who might be directly affected by a decision.

When not to use?

If the scope for the Jury’s influence is very narrow.  Ignoring the findings and/or decision a Citizen Jury could undermine the legitimacy of a public dialogue or formal consultation.

Find out more

There is loads more information here.



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