Feeling safe is vital for people to lead happy and healthy lives. But we know that fear of crime and violence is a top concern for over half of our residents.  

The Police play an important role in making our neighbourhoods safer. However, Baroness Casey’s review of the Metropolitan Police found a force that was not working as it should for all Londoners. 

In Waltham Forest, we want to ensure that all our communities have a stronger voice in how local policing is delivered. This is why in spring 2024 we held the first Citizens' Assembly on the Future of Neighbourhood Policing.

“Londoners’ voices are missing from how London is policed.” Casey Report (2023) 

Our Citizens’ Assembly will hand power to a representative group of local people to deliberate and make recommendations on how neighbourhood policing can be improved.  

The Council are working with the local Metropolitan Police to design and deliver this Assembly, which will be run by independent organisations and shaped by communities. The Assembly came together in early 2024 to hear evidence and develop their recommendations, which were published in July 2024.

Read the final report and recommendations

Our police our community picture with police officers smiling into the camera

About the Citizens’ Assembly 2024

A Citizens’ Assembly is a group of people who are brought together to learn about and discuss an issue, and reach conclusions about what they think should happen. They are usually made up of between 40 and 150 people who are referred to as Assembly members. Assembly members are chosen to reflect the wider population or community.  

Citizens’ Assemblies like this one have been used across the world. When given the space, evidence and time, everyday people can help tackle tough challenges and deliver sensible ways forward. 

What is the Citizens’ Assembly on the Future of Neighbourhood Policing?

This Citizens’ Assembly was set up as part of our response to local challenges around community safety and trust in policing. We want to give all our communities a voice in shaping how we overcome these challenges and a Citizens’ Assembly is an established model to ensure this. 

The Waltham Forest Citizens’ Assembly on the Future of Neighbourhood Policing brought together 50 local residents to look at neighbourhood policing in the borough, hearing balanced evidence and experiences on the issues.

Their recommendations will shape how the local Police work in our neighbourhoods. The Council will also use the recommendations to improve our engagement with the Police so that we can better support residents. 

How the Citizens’ Assembly works

Assembly members were recruited through a selection process run by an independent organisation. This selection process was run by a specialist organisation which sends out letters to randomly selected households. Once interested residents registered, a ‘lottery’ was then held to randomly select a representative group of people.  

An Advisory Board of independent experts provides oversight and ensures no one is unfairly omitted from the Citizens’ Assembly. 

The Citizens’ Assembly took place over three weekends in spring 2024. 

Has there been a Citizens' Assembly in Waltham Forest before?

We previously held the Citizens’ Assembly on Hate Crime in 2020. The recommendations from this Assembly led to the launch of a bystander intervention programme to equip residents with the skills to prevent hate crimes, the creation of a Citizens’ Panel, an awareness-raising campaign, and changes in how hate crime data is managed.

Read more about the Citizens’ Assembly on Hate Crime

How are Assembly members chosen?

The 50 Assembly members were randomly chosen from across our local communities. Together, they were representative of the population of Waltham Forest in terms of their age, gender, ethnicity, whether or not they have a disability, and where in the borough they live.  

We used a process known as a ‘sortition’ or ‘civic lottery’ to select the Assembly members. The process starts by writing to 10,000 addresses in Waltham Forest that are selected without bias from the Royal Mail’s postcode database. This gives everyone with an address in Waltham Forest an equal chance of receiving an invite to take part.

Learn more about sortition process 

What did Assembly members do?

Assembly members heard evidence from the community and national experts around neighbourhood policing. They then worked to develop a series of recommendations that have been given to the Police and the Council who will respond to the recommendations in writing.  

How did we gather representative views to inform the Assembly?

We undertook extensive engagement to ensure that everyone can have a say in shaping the Citizens’ Assembly and its recommendations. This included youth engagement, community conversations and focus groups to hear from all our communities.  

Every resident has had the opportunity to have a meaningful say through our resident survey that will shape the evidence presented to the Assembly. In total we had over 1000 responses.

How will Assembly members be compensated?

Assembly member participants have been paid for their time.  

Which other organisations are involved in the Assembly?

The Council has partnered with the Metropolitan Police (North East Basic Command Unit) to deliver this Assembly. We also work closely with local voluntary, community and faith organisations. 

The two independent organisations assisting with the design and delivery of the Assembly are: 

  • Involve is the UK’s leading public participation charity. They work to build a vibrant democracy, with people at the heart of decision making.  
  • The Sortition Foundation is a not-for-profit company that promotes the use of randomly selected groups of people in decision-making. 

Who is on the Advisory Board?

This Assembly received input from an Advisory Board made up of community leaders and national experts.

The Advisory Board met regularly to ensure that the Assembly is representative and Assembly members were provided with appropriate information for discussion.

Members of the Advisory Board include:

  • Cllr Grace Williams (Chair of the Advisory Board and Leader of the Council)
  • Cllr Khevyn Limbajee (Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board and Cabinet Member for Community Safety)
  • Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Crick – North East Basic Command Unit
  • Professor Ben Bradford – Global City Policing at UCL
  • Tim Hughes – Head of Democracy and Participation at Open Government Partnership
  • Dr Leroy Logan MBE – Chair of T2A and Founder of Black Police Association
  • Serena Simon – Director of Communities at Westminster City Council and a specialist in victim support
  • Steve Barnabis – Founder of Project Zero
  • Jackie Grant – Chair of Waltham Forest Women’s Network
  • Mark Paterson – Director of Wellbeing at East London Out Project
  • Gulcin Sariyildiz – Co-ordinator of Streetbase programme and youth advocate

What will happen to the Assembly’s recommendations?

The Council and the Police will respond to the recommendations and forums for the community to review progress will be established. 

Waltham Forest’s first Citizens’ Assembly was held in 2020 on the subject of hate crime, with the recommendations resulting in the Council’s No Space for Hate work.