Caithness: Your Police, You Decide

Closed 24 Jul 2022

Opened 2 May 2022


Caithness Voluntary Group (CVG) and Police Scotland are working together on an approach called 'Participatory Budgeting'. This will involve local people having a say over how we spend £32,000 in the Caithness area. 

The project, called Your Police, You Decide, has been funded by the Scottish Government and aims to improve local democracy, ensuring that communities are more engaged with decision-making to improve safety and wellbeing.

The project will be running from summer 2022 until early in 2023 and a Steering Group made up of people from the local community has been recruited to help; the group broadly represents people living in Caithness.

Police Scotland is committed to ensuring that the public, communities and partners are engaged, involved and have confidence in policing (Joint Strategy for Policing, 2020, Outcome 3) and to our statutory purpose of improving the safety and wellbeing of people, places and communities in Scotland. Policing is visible in every community and plays a vital part in Scotland’s recovery and renewal from the pandemic.

Successful projects 

We received 18 applications to our fund. The project's Steering Group agreed that all of these met the criteria and they would go forward to the public vote. The public vote ran from 28 November until 18 December. Voting took place online, using our ideas platform, and in person at locations in Wick, Thurso and Dunbeath. 

821 votes were cast in total across all 18 projects, with all projects receiving support from the local community. The initial budget of £32,000 has been allocated to all projects which received the strongest support from residents. An outline of the projects, the average rating, rank and funding allocated is outlined below. 

Successful projects

Project title Average rating (scale one to five) Rank Funding requested
Wellbeing Coaching Initiative  4.76 1  £2,840.00
Wellbeing sessions through art 4.70 2  £3,000.00
Transport to swimming lessons 4.52 3  £2,500.00
Help us maintain and promote our paths 4.47 4  £2,000.00
Warm Bank 4.42 5  £3,000.00
New Gymnastics Equipment 4.41 6  £2,200.00
Transformation of a space at youth club 4.38 7  £2,000.00
Support & cookery skills at The Sharing Shed 4.36 8  £3,000.00
Rainbows Starry Sleepover 4.29 9  £375.00
New Pregnancy and Baby Group 4.26 10  £3,000.00
Thurso Community Café 4.23 11  £3,000.00
FYI (Fun, Young and Involved) 4.22 12  £3,000.00
Total allocated spend     


More funding allocated 

Due to savings made elsewhere in the overall project budget, it has been agreed by the project Steering Group that the following projects will also receive their grant. This brings the total allocated to all 14 projects to £33,815. 

Project title Average rating (scale one to five) Rank Funding requested
First Aid & Food Hygiene Training Courses 4.21 13  £2,700.00
Rumster Forest Shelter Refurbishment  4.17 14  £1,200.00
Total allocated spend      £3,900.00
Additional investment over initial budget     £1,815.00

Unsuccessful projects

Participatory Budgeting gives local people the say over which projects receive funding. The above projects received the most democratic support and will therefore receive funding. The four projects below have been unsuccessful. We have shared further information with applicants about other funds that may help their ideas become reality. 

Project title Average rating (scale one to five) Rank Funding requested
Caithness at War - Home Front Project 4.15 15  £2,750.00
Caithness Street Pastors 4.11 16  £2,620.00
Groatie Buckie Trail 3.95 17  £3,000.00
Creation of Caithness Pubwatch Scheme 3.83 18  £3,000.00

Use of remaining funding to build community capacity

The Steering Group have decided to invest a further £1,820 that would have been used for a community celebration event in further community capacity building activities. Due to the circumstances with rising cost of living, they have agreed the money would be better spent in other ways.

Caithness Voluntary Group will use the money to provide training (health and safety, food safety, first aid etc.) to meet the legislative requirements for community groups providing community food groups, food larders, warm spaces etc. 


The Divisional Commander for Highland and Islands and the senior leadership team in Caithness want to drive innovation by working with communities – bringing learning and expertise from participatory democracy, community empowerment and public engagement approaches. Recognising that to improve safety and wellbeing, we need to enable genuine collaboration with and within our communities.

Through previous research and insight Police Scotland has identified that there are key drivers of public confidence in policing:

  • Police visibility, presence and accessibility;
  • Values and behaviours; and
  • Community engagement.

We also need a shared vision and collective response to some of the most pressing challenges such as poor mental health, drug and alcohol use and ensuring everyone has access to the right services at the right time.

Your Police, You Decide will be split into several distinct steps, with the Steering Group working with us throughout. In simple terms, the steps of this project are:

  1. Develop the guidelines for the funding and how much people/projects can bid for. 
  2. Advertise the opportunity in the local area so that everyone is aware and can get involved to bid for funds.
  3. Review proposals that have come in to make sure they match the guidelines we have set out.
  4. A public vote needs to take place for which projects/ideas people wish to receive funding.
  5. A celebratory event in the community to announce the successful projects. This will bring everyone together through food and music.

Policy context

This work is underpinned by a number of drivers for change, to ensure Police Scotland and our partners meet public sector duties for community empowerment, delivering best value by using public insight in its decision-making and enables innovation and collaboration with communities. It is important to advocate for a co-production approach where possible, to achieve the vision set out by Campbell Christie in the ‘Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services’ over a decade ago.

A recent article by the Auditor General for Scotland and a review by The Promise Scotland suggests that public organisations in Scotland have not done enough to achieve the vision set out by Christie. Your Police, You Decide sets out an opportunity to move into a new space with policing contributing as an ‘enabler’ in local communities to bring people together for change.

This project seeks to activate local communities, increase opportunities for active citizenship and work with people to solve problems and respond to local needs and concerns. Your Police, You Decide aligns with the ‘A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22’, in a number of areas – such as the local democracy review, green participatory budgeting and further deliberative democracy experiments and wider government commitments around community empowerment and active citizenship.

Process outline

The diagram below outlines the journey of this project from start to finish. 

Impact and learning

It is vital that throughout this next period, we maintain and improve public confidence in policing; by involving the public in a collaborative and participative way through Your Police, You Decide, we will learn more about what is needed and expected.We want to find out what works.

We have developed the following key lines of enquiry (KLE) to support and guide our learning as we go:

  1. What is needed for effective Participatory Budgeting in the context of policing, community safety and wellbeing, and where is there maximum value for public sector funding with a legacy for the longer term?
  2. How can large public sector bodies act within a space of ‘activation’ rather than ‘leading’ (a place-focused way, utilising local knowledge, expertise and other assets) – and what does this mean for the future of policing?
  3. How does Participatory Budgeting affect public confidence and trust in policing?

An independent evaluation report is available to download at the bottom of this page. We will provide reflections below about our learning against our KLE in due course.

A message from participants

Wendy said "It’s important to build positive relationships with the police for the kids. My hope is to make Caithness a safer place and to breakdown any stigma against the police. Many families I work with have had police involvement and it would be nice to show that police are here to help not hinder." 

Daniel said "I choose to be involved so that I could apply my passion of trying to create resilient communities with a sustainable outlook for their future. Taking pressure away from statutory services and acting as an anchor so that a more positive impact can be achieved." 

Steve said "I got involved quite simply because being part of the community, I care about the community! If I can put just a little more in than I take out and if the majority felt the same, we would thrive."

Eann Sinclair, Chair of Caithness Community Partnership said “This is a very welcome approach by Police Scotland which recognises the importance of sharing responsibility for decision-making with representatives from local communities. At a time when our communities continue to show resilience in the face of many external challenges, Police Scotland and Caithness Voluntary Group offer positive opportunities to make a difference.”

Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, Divisional Commander, Highland and Islands Division said "Understanding the concerns of the communities in Caithness is at the heart of community policing. This participatory budget goes the next step and allows communities to both identify problems and design and fund solutions. I very much celebrate this innovative approach to working with communities in Caithness."

More information

Project funded by: Scottish Government

Community delivery partner: Caithness Voluntary Group

Evaluation: Culture Croft


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