When asked whether prison was an effective means of preventing crime, 57 per cent of the 300 randomly selected people questioned believed it was either 'very effective' or 'effective'. After a weekend of debate and discussion with experts and politicians, the figure dropped to 38 per cent.
The deliberative poll, conducted jointly by the Independent and Channel 4, was the first event of its kind to have taken place.
Three hundred people were questioned on their views before spending a weekend in Manchester debating the issues and discussing them with experts. At the end, they were questioned again.
Deliberative polling is the brainchild of Professor James Fishkin, professor of government at the University of Austin, Texas, and aims to create a survey of opinion that penetrates far deeper than conventional opinion polls.
What the country really thinks, pages 8, 9
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