Barnet Citizens' Panel
Barnet Citizens’ Panel was established in 1997 to give Barnet residents a chance to influence life in the borough and let us know what is important to them in their area.
The panel is statistically representative of the population of Barnet, and has been invaluable to the council and its partners in researching how Barnet residents feel on issues. It also acts as a sounding-board for future policies and decisions.
The panel is not the only way we seek the views of local people, but it adds an important form of dialogue and produces an accurate picture of Barnet residents' views.
Explore our pages to learn more about the work of the panel, the research it has generated and the influence it has had.
- the panel currently has 1,250 Barnet residents as members. The panel's membership is continually refreshed to continue to provide opportunities for people to get involved in local decision-making
- it includes residents from all of Barnet's diverse communities. Residents are randomly selected from the council's Property Gazetteer and are then invited to join the panel
- to ensure that the panel mirrors the population of the borough, once residents have accepted our invitation, they are then asked to complete a profiling questionnaire, which enables us to select on the basis of key demograhics such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and where they live.
- the complete panel is designed to be representative of the borough. In order to keep the panel fresh, residents are given a three-year membership.
Benefits of the citizens' panel
- it provides a ready-made borough-wide sample to consult on key issues rather than having to approach new participants for each survey. This improves response rate, the accuracy of the results and makes the panel very cost-effective
- it can be used to track change in residents’ attitudes to particular issues over time
- it facilitates partnerships with other public sector agencies. Our partners in the police and health services have used the panel on numerous occasions
Why councils have citizens' panels
- ongoing panels are more cost effective than one-off surveys
- provides good quality statistically representative research
- gives a more balanced response than traditional ways of consulting with people
- encourages greater understanding of decision-making in the council
- contributes to democratic renewal and encourages participation in democratic processes
- we have a statutory duty to consult under the Government's Best Value Guidance and Duty to Involve Act 2009.
What panel members do
- they complete up to three questionnaires a year. Each questionnaire typically contains a number of different sections covering different topics
- they are also invited to attend group discussions or workshops to discuss particular issues in detail.
What happens with results of surveys and group discussions
- they are passed back to the people who can make changes: the relevant service managers, senior council officers and elected councillors
- external partners, such as the NHS and police, are passed results of surveys that are relevant to their service area
- panel members are kept informed of the results of the surveys via the panel newsletter.