The current 'user satisfaction' survey used by Merseyside police force is about to be phased out. The survey canvasses the opinion of victims, as well as other service users and members of the community. A replacement survey was therefore required.In order to avoid the new survey including a lot of questions that might be meaningful to the police force organisationally, but which fail to address the feelings and thoughts of the community they serve, a focus group approach was utilised. The focus groups were held in order to find out what is important to community members about policing, and to discover what they would like to be able to feed back to the police. In this way the focus groups were held in order to find out what sort of questions community members would like to see included in the new survey.The benefit of the research will be to allow Merseyside to design a survey that asks questions about their service that reflect the concerns of the community members, and avoids asking questions that are not meaningful to the community members. It will also ultimately allow the gathering of meaningful and quantifiable data by which the police force are able to identify areas of strength and shortcomings in their policing practice.
Merseyside Police Community Engagement Unit identified participants (victims and people from independent advisory groups) to participate in three focus groups. The focus groups were facilitated by a team of four researchers from the Open University, with two researchers being present in each group. Informed consent was obtained from all participants, and the focus groups were audio recorded. A three stage procedure based on thematic analysis was used to analyse data from the focus groups.