A public dialogue consisting of stakeholder and public workshops and an online engagement process, addressing the UK governments’ strategy for addressing bovine TB and becoming officially TB free whilst maintaining the livestock industry.
Problems and Purpose
In July 2013, Defra published a draft Strategy for achieving officially tuberculosis free (OTF) status for England over a 25-year period whilst maintaining a sustainable livestock industry. The Strategy sets out how the aim will be achieved through greater partnership working, increasingly industry-led implementation and fair sharing of the associated costs. The aim of the dialogue was to understand participants’ views on the measures and the approach to delivering them, as outlined in the Strategy.
The overall objectives of the dialogue were:
- To engage the general public and stakeholders in understanding, deliberating on and contributing to the future strategic development of England’s bTB policy and strategy.
- To inform Defra’s development of a comprehensive bTB eradication strategy.
- To develop and appraise opportunities to build a trust relationship between the general public, stakeholders, and government in developing policy options for animal disease control.
The dialogue comprised the following three strands:
1) Ten stakeholder workshops across England. These workshops aimed to explore stakeholder views on Defra’s draft Strategy and were held in locations within each of the three geographical areas defined in the draft Strategy: the High Risk Area, the Edge Area, and the Low Risk Area. Each area has its own objectives and sub-strategy that supports the Strategy’s overarching aim. The workshops were attended by a range of stakeholders, 258 people in total, including farmers and farming organisations, vets and veterinary organisations, livestock auctioneers, wildlife and environment organisations, local authorities, supply chain representatives and academics. Workshops were attended by representatives from Defra and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency
2) Three sets of recruited, reconvened public dialogue workshops. These events took place on Saturdays in autumn 2013 in three locations across England: Birmingham, Exeter, and Newcastle. Workshop locations were selected to ensure coverage of the three geographical areas defined in the draft Strategy described above. Each workshop was reconvened in the same location two weeks later. A sample of approximately 40 members of the general public attended each workshop, with a total of 111 participants across the three locations. Participants were recruited, to broadly reflect the diversity of the local population. Workshops were attended by representatives from Defra and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, as well as academic experts on bTB.
3) Online engagement with recruited members of the public. The online engagement, which used an online research tool called Vizzata, took place from 28 November until 9 December 2013. The online engagement was designed to complement the reconvened workshops process, using similar materials to those used in the workshops, and broadly mirroring the workshop process. The online engagement aimed to triangulate the findings from the public workshops and to assess the feasibility of using an online platform to interact with and gain feedback from a recruited sample of the public. 65 members of the general public were recruited to take part in the formal process. 
Background History and Context
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) continues to have economic, environmental and social implications in the UK. In 2012, measures to control the disease resulted in the testing of 5.8 million cattle and the slaughter of 28,000 animals at a cost of £100 million to the UK taxpayer and tens of millions to the farming industry. The disease poses a risk to the beef, dairy and live export trade and the Government continues to face international pressure to comply with EU regulations and progress towards eradication .
In July 2013, Defra published its draft Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England. This built upon the high profile ‘Call for views on strengthening our TB eradication programme and new ways of working’, carried out in Autumn 2012 on behalf of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England. The draft Strategy set out policy options for addressing and eradicating bovine TB in both cattle and wildlife.
In August/September 2013, licensed badger culls began to pilot and assess the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting of free-ranging badgers (alongside the cage-trapping and shooting method). Badger cull policy was covered extensively in the mainstream media and political debate, with vocal opposition from sections of the scientific community, campaign groups and a public e-petition gathering over 300,000 signatures. The debate around the badger cull was therefore a focus for participants and was raised at every workshop. However, the focus of this project was on the raft of measures outlined in the draft Strategy for the eradication of bTB, in which badger control measures – including culling – are only one element. 
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Total cost of project: £375,655
The dialogue was commissioned by the UK department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra). Sciencewise-ERC provided support and co-funding for the project. Following an open call, the dialogue delivery contractor was OPM group, and the independent evaluator was 3KQ.
The dialogue commissioning agent, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues.
OPM is an independent public interest company that helps public services across all sectors to improve outcomes, performance and standards. OPM was responsible for delivery of the public dialogue.
3KQ are leaders in the field of facilitation and stakeholder engagement and were responsible for evaluation of this project.
Sciencewise-ERC is a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funded programme to bring scientists, government and the public together to explore the impact of science and technology in our lives. It helps Government departments and agencies commission and use public dialogue to inform policy making, involving science and technology issues. Its core aim is to develop the capacity of Government to carry out good dialogue, to gather and disseminate good practice, have successful two-way communications with the public and other stakeholders, and to embed the principles of good dialogue into internal Government processes.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
- Total public participants: 176 (111 face to face, 65 online)
- Stakeholders and experts involved: 258 across 10 events 
1. Stakeholder Workshops:
- Participants: People directly or indirectly affected by bTB and/or its controls, including vets, farmers and wildlife groups
- Self-selecting: target groups and individuals invited to attend directly or through farming, vet and wildlife group intermediaries
- Number of participants: 258 across ten locations
2. Reconvened public dialogue workshops
- Participants: Members of the public
- Selection Method: Purposively recruited to a quota sample
- Number of participants: 111 across three locations
3. Public Online Engagement
- Participants: Members of the public
- Selection Method: Purposively recruited to a quota sample
- Number of participants: 65
Methods and Tools Used
The workshops were attended by a range of stakeholders, 258 people in total, including farmers and farming organisations, vets and veterinary organisations, wildlife and environment organisations, local authorities, supply chain representatives and academics. The mix of stakeholders varied across the workshops: for example, the Frome workshop saw a more diverse mix of stakeholders than the Launceston workshop, in which farmers and vets predominated.
Tools and materials used in these workshops include: summary table of options for each area, control measure information cards, maps showing confirmed measures, presentations, facilitated discussions, and case studies. 
Workshops were held in three locations across England (Birmingham, Exeter, and Newcastle), which were selected to reflect the three types of risk area for bTB – high risk, edge (of high risk) and low risk. The workshops took place in September and October 2013. Groups in each location met twice (on Saturdays two weeks apart) for a full day (10am to 4pm). A total of 111 public participants were involved (between 30 and 40 in each location).
Because of the complexity of the topic and the amount of information in the draft Strategy, a reconvened workshops approach was chosen for the public dialogue strand. This involved participants attending a one-day workshop and meeting again for a second workshop two weeks later. This approach gave participants sufficient time to get to grips with the science and to deliberate on the social and ethical issues. 
Each workshop was attended by representatives from Defra; the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), an executive agency of Defra (now part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency); and one academic specialist at each of the second round of workshops, primarily observing and listening, but also available to answer questions.
The following were used in the workshops: process plans, experts in attendance, presentation from academic experts, information sheets, interactive voting questions, question boards, stakeholder wall quotes chart, newspaper articles, and interactive voting sessions. 
The online engagement was delivered using Vizzata, an online research tool which allows participants to engage with content, ask questions and comment on this content, and receive responses to their questions and comments before participating in a second round of engagement.
In the first stage, participants engaged with the content of the project. This content was presented in the form of text, tables, images and the two films used in the public dialogue workshops. Participants were asked specific questions in relation to this content.
Throughout the first part of the study, participants could also submit comments and questions at any point. These comments were analysed and responded to, with responses sent out individually by email, through the online Vizzata tool. 
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The stakeholder workshops were broken down into the following sessions:
Session 1: Introduction and context setting.
- Defra presentation, small table discussion, plenary Q and A
Session 2: Bovine TB control measures
- Presentations and information cards, small table discussion
- Questions addressed included: Has Defra missed anything? Are the preferred measures the right measures? Is this the best possible balance of measures for the strategy?
Session 3: Governance, partnership and delivery
- Defra presentation, New Zealand Case Study introduced, Small tabe discusisons and plenary Q and A.
- Questions addressed included: What role can stakeholders play in achieving TB free status? What are the things you like/dislike about the NZ governance model? Views on TB Free style committee in England, who might be on the committee, what activities might they be involved in? What is fair/unfair with regard to future options for funding?
- Final small table discussion to agree on one or two key messages for Defra. 
The overall aim of Workshop 1 was to set out the science and epidemiology of bovine TB and the options for addressing its eradication. Information was presented in three main ways:
- An animation which gave an overview of what bTB is, the rationale for controlling it, control methods and the aim of the draft Strategy. This set the scene and opened up the initial discussion, enabling organizers to understand what participants found interesting, new, difficult or surprising.
- A presentation from a Defra or AHVLA representative outlining the history of bovine TB in England, current levels of bTB in England and Europe, and an overview of the bTB control measures currently in place and the changes proposed in the draft Strategy.
- Four control measures information sheets, which summarised the bTB control programme under the following headings: detecting bovine TB; dealing with bovine TB when it is found; badgers and bovine TB, and preventing the spread of bovine TB.
The overall aim of Workshop 2 was to help participants think through the social implications of various bTB control measures and policy options and for the organizers to hear and understand their views on specific aspects of the draft Strategy in detail - such as the appropriate roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders - as well as on the strategy as a whole.
A film shown at the start of the second workshop highlighted some of the different views and interests at stake, through interviews with a farmer with experience of bTB in his herd, representatives from the RSPCA and the Wildlife Trust, and a vet in a high risk area. These interviewees were selected to bring a range of views on bovine TB into the room, to contribute to participants’ ongoing discussions about the control measures.
To bring other perspectives into the room, 12-14 stakeholder quote cards were placed on the walls of the room. The quotes were taken from the ten stakeholder workshops held in September as a separate strand of this citizen dialogue project. They were chosen to reflect a range of stakeholder perspectives on various control measures, and on the roles and responsibilities of different organisations and groups within the system. Public participants were asked to indicate which one quote was closest to their own view (using a green sticky dot) and which one quote was furthest from their own view (using a red sticky dot).
In the final session of the second workshop, participants were asked to give their final recommendations for the bTB Strategy. Participants were encouraged to reflect back on all the information and perspectives they had heard over the two days before drawing together their main conclusions on the draft bTB Strategy. 
Full details of the specific content and questions included in the online engagement aspect of the dialogue can be found in the Online Engagement Report.
The content provided basic information on Bovine TB, including an animation, then asked the participants a series of questions to discern what information was new to them and their attitudes towards it.
Participants were introduced to Bovine testing, surveillance and prevention methods. Participants were then asked to give information on their initial reactions, what they liked or disliked about the measures, as well as their attitudes towards badger and cattle vaccination and culls.
Full details of the messages from each of the three strands of the dialogue project can be found in the summary report (See FR). These address issues such as cattle/badger measures and surveillance, governance and funding, communicating information about bovine TB, Bovine TB control measures and roles and responsibilities.
Finding across each strand regarding key objectives is provided below.
One objective of the dialogue was to develop and appraise opportunities to build a trust relationship between the general public, stakeholders and government in developing policy options for animal disease control.
Across participant groups, there was substantial scope to build trust in the government’s ability to manage the bTB control programme effectively. This lack of confidence lay behind many of the views expressed during the dialogue, particularly the support for a more collaborative approach.
Improved communication would be valued by all groups, providing this is considered carefully and tailored effectively to audience needs. Cross-sector discussions such as those in the stakeholder workshops might help to further a partnership approach, particularly in relation to badger control measures.
Stakeholders suggested that more transparency from Defra about how the bTB budget is spent would encourage the more trusting relationship needed for effective partnership working. Their commitment to an increased financial contribution to bTB control was contingent upon having more power, knowledge and influence.
Farming industry stakeholders felt they had been misrepresented by the media. They thought that better public communication about the impacts of bTB was needed to address this and increase public trust in the industry.
Objections to badger culling rested in part on mistrust of the evidence provided by government, or at least a mistrust of the government’s interpretation of the wider evidence base. They were also driven by ethical and other concerns which scientific evidence alone will not address.
Informing Defra’s draft Strategy
Two objectives of the dialogue were to engage the general public and stakeholders in understanding, deliberating on and contributing to the future strategic development of England’s bTB policy and strategy, and to inform Defra’s development of a comprehensive bTB eradication strategy. The following themes are common across all strands of the dialogue:
- The importance of working towards Officially Bovine TB Free Status for England.
- The need for effective public communication of accurate information about bTB and its controls.
- Increased partnership working to contribute to a more successful Strategy.
- Requests for more clarity about where responsibilities lie for managing bTB.
- Encouraging farmers to adopt on-farm biosecurity measures to reduce risk of bTB infection, though views differed across strands on what this system should be.
- Enhanced surveillance of badgers to understand transmission better.
- Frequent cattle testing as a way to stem the spread of bTB by detecting infection as early as possible and support for increased frequency of testing in the low risk area.
- Enhanced slaughterhouse surveillance.
- Frustration about the length of time before a licensed cattle TB vaccination will be available for use.
- A range of views about the efficacy and appropriateness of culling as part of the bTB Strategy.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The results of the dialogue were shared very quickly with the key policy and decision makers. The then Secretary of State received a briefing on the dialogue process and results towards the end of the process.
In addition, the Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG) was informed of the results of the dialogue. TBEAG is an expert group with responsibility for advising the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) and Defra ministers on the development and implementation of the Strategy for eradicating bovine TB. The TBEAG was consulted during the initial planning for the project and received a verbal update at the start of the citizen dialogue, as well as being informed about the final dialogue results.
The dialogue results were publicly recognised as a useful part of Defra’s evidence base for the new bTB Strategy. When the bTB Strategy was published on 3 April 2014, the cross-cutting report of the dialogue findings was published alongside the summary of consultation responses. This is an important public statement of credibility for the dialogue because the implication is that both sources of evidence are being given a similar order of weighting. Additionally, the video animation used in the public workshops caught the attention of the Secretary of State. As a result, the tool was refreshed prior to the Strategy launch and published alongside it. As a result of the bTB animation, Defra has used a similar approach for promoting understanding and debate around other key policy areas such as pollinators.
The impacts on the Strategy were more about increasing the levels of confidence that Defra had in particular measures and how they should be explained and presented, rather than introducing new ideas or changing the proposed mix of measures in the Strategy. Nevertheless, the consultation/dialogue did influence specific new initiatives announced with the Strategy – for example, the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme and the farm-level risk-management advice in the cull areas. 
The independent evaluation also identified two other achievements for the project:
1) Enhancing the consultation: Instead of a straightforward and rather traditional paper-based exercise, the citizen dialogue enabled the review of the draft bTB Strategy to be open to discussion by stakeholders at 10 workshops around the country, six public workshops and a separate online research process. This made for a more well-rounded input to Defra’s thinking when compared to the more familiar paper-based consultation.
2) Holding discussion across the whole strategy, not just culling: Media coverage in the run up to and during the first year of the licensed badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire was predominantly focused on the rights and wrongs of culling badgers. However, this is only one of the various measures being deployed by Defra to manage the disease. Part of the framing at the start of the dialogue was to consciously focus discussion across all parts of the strategy, including the different control measures. Although not easy, this was effective due to consistent efforts of the facilitators and Defra staff during the events. 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The case study and evaluation report provide the following summary of the lessons learned from the project.
What worked well
The main achievements of the dialogue were enhancing the consultation beyond a paper-based exercise, holding discussion across the full range of measures (not just badger culling) and being publicly recognised as a part of Defra’s evidence base.
There was a very clear policy hook for this dialogue. Defra’s strategy for bTB eradication in England was launched for consultation shortly after the dialogue was commissioned. This allowed the findings of the dialogue to be taken on board during the period of finalising the draft strategy. From one perspective, this was ideal because the dialogue could be framed directly around the draft Strategy and the dialogue findings could be directly incorporated into the final Strategy. On the other hand, timescales were very short to incorporate the dialogue findings into the Strategy in a meaningful way. However, a key policy maker was involved throughout the dialogue project and was able to consider the findings as they emerged. Nevertheless, this raises the question of the extent to which policy makers were able to formally take the findings fully on board in the Strategy.
In addition, policy makers were very engaged in the actual dialogue delivery. This was evident from the amount of staff time given by the policy and evidence teams in Defra attending the stakeholder workshops, the public workshops and writing or signing off answers to questions raised in the online engagement. In addition, the initial plan was to hold only two stakeholder workshops, but this was increased to ten soon after the start of the dialogue, as they were considered so important. Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Veterinary Officer were aware of the dialogue and the Secretary of State was briefed on the dialogue outcomes as one part of the evidence base informing the development of the strategy.
At the time of the dialogue, the first year of the licensed badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire began. As well as an increased level of associated policy work, this caused a significant amount of media coverage that focused almost solely on the polarised debate about whether or not to cull badgers. The effect of this was evident in most of the workshops, where some participants had seen the media coverage. In turn, there was a natural focus towards discussing the rights and wrongs of culling badgers, rather than the wider raft of measures and controls Defra was proposing. A significant effort was consistently made to hold the focus on the wider frame, to good effect.
What worked less well
External stakeholders were involved in the governance of the project via the Oversight Group, but not to the degree that would have made full use of the wider perspectives that they could have brought to choices about framing, balance of materials and providing information. The Oversight Group operated more as an internal management group between Defra, Sciencewise and the contractor, rather than an external group.
Attempts were made to get independent scientists to attend the public workshops to answer questions and act as a resource for participants. Finding individuals who could provide independent input was problematic because almost all external stakeholders who had specialist knowledge on the topic also had a view. This difficulty was compounded by the lack of time. In the end, the rst round of events had no specialist input beyond Defra or AHVLA. The second round of events had an academic specialist whose role was to discuss the socio-economic factors surrounding bTB and give an overview of alternative governance models (e.g. in New Zealand) rather than putting across a diversity of viewpoints. While Defra/AHVLA representatives did make efforts to put across the range of views, and other perspectives were brought into the room through quote cards and filmed interviews, the lack of alternative specialist input in person did introduce the danger that the alternative views to those of Defra were not well represented at the workshops.
The process of developing the online engagement was not given the same priority as that of the stakeholder or public workshops. There was then little time or flexibility to discuss openly the expectations for this strand of work, but everyone recognised the online process was a trial and, therefore, valuable. While some useful views emerged from it, including some points that the participants felt more strongly about in the online engagement than they did in the other strands (for example, support for a badger vaccination), the overall view was that the online tool provided less value than the other methods in enabling deliberative dialogue and had not met its objectives as well. 
The independent evaluation identified two overarching lessons from the project:
- the value of involving a diverse stakeholder group in informing Defra’s choices about the framing and design of the dialogue, as a demonstrable safeguard against potential bias.
- the value of exploring, early on, the expectations that the commissioning body, Sciencewise and delivery contractor have about the status of public dialogue in relation to other research or methods employed. This would allow explicit discussions and agreements from the start about the way the dialogue is delivered and reported on. 
 Defra (2014) “Defra Bovine TB Citizen Dialogue: Cross Cutting Summary”, April 2014
 Sciencewise (2015) “Case Study: Bovine TB Citizen Dialogue”, December 2015
 Sciencewise (2017) “Citizen Dialogue on Bovine TB” (ONLINE) Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20170110132545/http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/citizen-dialogue-on-bovine-tb
 Defra (2014) “Defra bovine TB citizen dialogue: Stakeholder workshops”, Defra report, April 2014
 Defra (2014) “Defra bovine TB citizen dialogue: Public workshops”, Defra report, April 2014
 Defra (2014) “Defra bovine TB citizen dialogue: Online Engagement”, Defra report, April 2014
 Bennet, Rhuari (2015) “Evaluation of public and stakeholder engagement on Bovine Tuberculosis, for Defra”, 3KQ, February 2015