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New Zealand Police Act

Added by Peter Johnson, last edited by Andy Hanna on Sep 04, 2008 4:17 PM


Case Summary


In order to raise awareness of and increase public participation in the redevelopment of New Zealand's Police Act 1958, the Police Act review team opened a wiki-based collaborative effort to rewrite the Act. This case met a global audience and drew extensive participation as well as media coverage, and established a strong example of utilizing collaborative technologies in the writing of laws.

Business Challenge

The Police Act review team wished to incorporate community perspectives into their review process, as well as the perspectives of academics and authorities on policing policy. The team sought to open the review to the thoughts of their customers--- the people which they serve, and to allow those customers to contribute to the dialogue in which they were stakeholders.

Approach Taken

Between September 26th and October 1st, 2007 the New Zealand Police Act review team ran an open wiki, beginning with the contents of the Police Act 1958 and allowing anyone to edit it as they would a Wikipedia article. The wiki was monitored by as many as four full-time employees at any one time.

Results Achieved

The Police Act wiki drew international attention, thus raising the profile of the Police Act Review among New Zealanders. Further, the wiki generated new ideas and provided consultation to the review team at low cost. Ultimately the wiki served to build consensus among ideas for the new legislation which the review team offered to legislators for consideration in their own drafting of a new act.

Lessons Learned

This early attempt at participatory legislation proved wiki to be a useable model for consulting the public. It showed that collaborative technologies incorporate citizens into policy discussions and into policy development. At the very least this trial demonstrated an ability to build a more accurate depiction of the public's expectations of specific legislation, with which legislators could better represent their constituents.

The Police Act review team met consequences as well as successes when the wiki became a forum for the public to express its displeasure with speeding ticket enforcement and other unpopular laws, despite their necessity for public safety. A participatory legislation model such as this requires a more extensive trial to determine whether this sort of collaboration can create reasoned legislation that would include not just the public's desires but their careful considerations of the limitations inherent in governance, such as budgets, regulations, and obligations.

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