5. Independent

What does the standard say?

5. Independent

The assembly is impartially facilitated (both lead and group facilitation)

Key decisions about the citizens’ assembly agenda and design are reviewed by an independent advisory group to ensure their balance and impartiality

The assembly is run at an arm’s length from the commissioning body

Do I need to have an Advisory Group? 

Yes.  This group is made up of specialists and stakeholders from a range of perspectives. This group plays a key role in ensuring that the evidence presented to assembly members is balanced, comprehensive and factually accurate; and importantly to provide a level of scrutiny and independence to ensure the assembly is not being driven by the agendas of the commissioning body. 

What role should elected representatives play in an assembly? 

Elected representatives will need to buy in to and take seriously the implications of holding of a citizens' assembly.  They are often involved in shaping or confirming the assembly question and may play a role on an Advisory Group.  They will, as a minimum, need to receive and respond to the recommendations coming from it and should take advantage of being an Observer to the process.  Beyond that, assemblies on different topics and in different contexts may involve elected representatives in different ways.  Whilst they should have ownership of the topic and the process, they should however be removed enough to not be seen to influence the process unduly.