Customer story: Police Scotland

Community Engagement Process
'screenshot of 'Police Scotland
'screenshot of 'Police Scotland

Listening and learning

Police Scotland is the national police force for all of Scotland. It’s a huge, sprawling organisation with nearly 25,000 staff, including over 17,000 full-time police officers, and 13 regional divisions.

Police forces aren’t in charge of creating new laws or policies - only their enforcement. They don’t have a statutory duty to consult the public. But an important part of Police Scotland’s continuous improvement of their service and relationship with the public is a robust community engagement programme.

Police Scotland recognises that one of the most effective ways to build trust with the Scottish people is to engage with them and demonstrate that they’re listening. Davina Fereday, Research and Insight Manager for Police Scotland, and her team knew that well-executed online engagement was the most surefire way to communicate with a broad range of people.

They procured Citizen Space in 2019. They had online engagement methods in place already, but - as is usually the case with big, national organisations - they weren’t consistent across the organisation. “There were a lot of people relying on our old survey tool, but Citizen Space was the better platform in terms of data protection issues as well as for central oversight,” said Davina.

Getting it right

It was important to embed good working practices across the board, so Davina and co built a robust training package to those in Police Scotland who wished to run community engagement activities online. Recommendations included ensuring all engagements are built with accessibility in mind. Based on public feedback, Police Scotland now publish their activities in plain English as well as BSL versions.

The result has been a series of engagements with huge response rates. Since procuring Citizen Space they’ve seen a 500% increase in response rates. They are running their annual ‘Your Police’ survey, which asks residents what they think of Police Scotland and how they feel policing could be improved across the country, for the third consecutive year. ‘Your Police 2020-2021’ got over 36,000 responses. Residents answered questions about how the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting series of national lockdowns impacted their feelings of safety and trust of the police, among other things.

Police Scotland have also asked the Scottish people for their views on issues like Body Worn Video and policing at football matches.

Staying accountable

Keen to avoid engagement just for the sake of it, Police Scotland make sure they feed back after all their public engagement activities using Citizen Space’s integrated feedback mechanisms like We Asked, You Said, We Did. “It’s about policing by consent, but also proving that we’re doing that,” says Eve Georgieva, who worked in the same team as Davina. “Feeding back is really, really important. That’s how we establish our trust with people and show we’re transparent in what we’re doing.”

Everybody who’s used Citizen Space within Police Scotland loves it.

Davina Fereday, Research and Insight Manager, Police Scotland

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