<h3 style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Cambria, treat ‘Times New Roman’, help Times, serif; line-height: 1.1; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 0px;”>Local authorities, the Police, Fire Service and other organisations in UK might want to consider the following success factors for engaging with local people. Reference: Terry Amsler of the Collaborative Governance Initiative (Canada).
1. Besides having good intentions make sure that officials at the top of the tree will actually use the ideas. Insincerity will soon be spotted.
2. Avoid using campaigns to persuade the community about a solution. Persuasion towards something you want is different to being open to input from the public.
3. Make sure the engagement starts before a decision is actually made. It will just make people angry and generate even more mistrust if they believe the exercise was too little too late.
4. Reach beyond those with the loudest voice. Design an engagement plan and get to know the community. You might want to use some kind of stakeholder analysis tool to make sure the people who are impacted most but have little power actually do get a hearing, while the usual suspects with the loudest voices learn to hold back and listen to other considerations.
5. Get the scale of public engagement right. Just because you engage some people in deliberations doesn’t mean that everyone will opt for the same outcome. So, choose a raft of engagement approaches and make sure there is a good communication strategy in place.
6. Be realistic. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Deliberation takes time and effort and thoughtful consideration. Make sure there is enough time in the plan and think carefully about what information needs to be shared with people. It needs to be balanced and fair so that they can reason out what they think.
7. Don’t be scared to address differences in opinion. Expect hard questions and don’t avoid giving consideration to them in favour of preferred outcomes. Vague answers will invite conflict and leave unresolved differences.
8. If the purpose is to join the public with the policy, make sure the leadership is knowledgeable about all the issues and in agreement and ensure officials are involved in public collaborations.
9. If there is a history of dissent or mistrust, make sure the old baggage is identified and problems aired before any new public engagement exercise is begun. Start the new process collaboratively with the people who are to be involved.