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Questions and answers: how a PCC can use webcasting to talk directly to the public

By December 17, 2013 No Comments

 

Clarissa Hawthorne interviewing Katy Bourne during the interactive Q&A session

Clarissa Hawthorne interviewing Katy Bourne during the interactive Q&A session

Just a few weeks ago we were asked by the Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner to help support an interactive Q&A session with the Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.

Sussex residents were able to question the PCC, live on air, on her first year in office and to have their say on policing and crime issues in the county.

The OSPCC used its existing webcasting kit to livestream the Police and Crime Commissioner and her interviewer, communications manager Clarissa Hawthorne, while taking live questions from viewers on Twitter and a CoveritLive blog. These were integrated into the Connect webcast player. Additionally, we helped the OSPCC with the expertise and support they needed to make this a seamless event.

Watch the webcast here.

The Sussex OPCC Connect site, showing the CoveritLive blog and webcast, featuring Katy Bourne – click for full size

Rosie Gooch, communications manager at the OSPCC, was directing the live webcast and using CoveritLive and Twitter to take questions from the public. These were relayed to Clarissa by a screen projector directly in her view. An informal studio-style set-up was created and the OSPCC used two fixed cameras, set to three different views, which Rosie switched between to help provide a more dynamic, engaging webcast.

As you can see, the results are excellent – and it’s worth emphasising that the team was able to get through some challenging lines of questioning throughout the course of the interview.

PCC Katy Bourne said: “My first year in office was full of challenges and achievements. I wanted to offer people another way to get in touch and ask me questions; either to reflect on my first year in the job or to raise a local issue that is important to them.

“Over 3,000 people have already watched my monthly Performance & Accountability Meetings (PAMs) with the Chief Constable, which are webcast live and show me holding him to account on behalf of the public. The live Q&A turned the tables and gave residents an opportunity to hear me answer their questions.”

What perhaps stands out most about this event is the value it has for PCCs and other forms of direct democracy, particuarly directly elected mayors. As we’ve written before, George Ferguson, the Mayor of Bristol, has adopted a similar format to address questions from his electorate directly. You can see those webcasts here.

We’ve seen Brighton and Hove City Council also using a direct Q&A format to give voters the chance to talk with Jason Kitcat, who is leader of the council. And we’d hope that other councils are interested in using their existing systems – or booking one-off events to carry out similar events.

Another possibility, of course, is that councils and other webcasters offer the use of their systems to PCCs when and where the need they feel they need to reach out directly.

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