A total of 1,032 respondents made a submission. The majority of responses were submitted through the Scottish Government's online consultation hub, Citizen Space. Other responses were submitted as emails or in hard copy. Some of these did not to follow the standard structure of the consultation and were in statement form. When such responses contained clear answers to one or more of the 'Yes/No' questions these have been recorded. The remaining content, has been analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant consultation question. This approach has also been taken to the analysis of further comments made by those using the standard response form.
The results from the closed questions (e.g. Yes/No, or a list of types of devices from which to select), are presented in tabular form. At some questions summary results are included within the main report and full results (usually broken down by respondent category) have been provided at Annex 4. Given the relatively high level of response overall, percentages are presented within the report. However, it should be noted that the relatively small number of respondents within some respondent categories does mean that percentage values should be viewed as indicative.
There were some particular issues associated with the quantitative analysis for this consultation. In particular, further comments made and/or answers given at combinations of questions suggest that some questions may not always have been interpreted or answered as intended. Specific issues included:
- There were certain questions at which a pre-defined list of options was given, one of which was an option to answer 'Other' and give further information. The further information given by respondents selecting 'Other' has then been analysed and further options devised as appropriate. It may be the case that some of the respondents who selected one of the original, pre-defined options might have chosen one of the new options had these been available. For example, when respondents were asked to identify their primary reason for answering the consultation, a number of respondents who selected 'Other' went on to make a connection with working dogs. However, some of those who had selected one of the pre-defined categories might have selected the working dogs option had it been listed.
- There were certain questions at which it was only possible to select one of the options given but further comments made suggest that some respondents might have selected multiple options had that been possible. For example, at Question 11 respondents were only able to select one route through which they had purchased a device. However, those who selected 'Other' and then went on to provide information sometimes noted that they had purchased through multiple routes. It is not clear whether some of those who selected a purchase route may also have purchased through other routes.
- There were occasions on which respondents may have wished to indicate limited or conditional support for an option. In particular, many of those who indicated that they wanted a ban of certain devices (at Question 6) then went on to indicate that they wished to see devices regulated (at Question 7). Further comments suggest that some of these respondents wished to see the devices banned but, if they were not banned, they wished to see them regulated. Others appeared to see regulation as a means to a ban rather than an alternative. In both cases, some respondents appeared to see a connection between their answers at these two questions. However, this was only evident if they made a further comment.
- The intention was that certain of the latter questions (on use or financial impact) should only have been answered by certain types of respondent. In particular, Questions 13- 17 were intended for different types of businesses. However, other 'non-business' respondents also sometimes answered these questions, suggesting that some form of clearer signposting or routing might have been helpful.
- There were occasions on which respondents of broadly the same view (based on their further comments) answered the quantitative question differently. This appeared to have been driven by how 'precisely' respondents had interpreted a question. For example, at Questions 1 and 2 respondents were asked about evidence of misuse or effective use of training aids in Scotland. Those who wished to cite evidence from elsewhere sometimes answered 'Yes' i.e. that they had evidence and then made a further comment. Others answered 'No' and noted that the evidence they were citing did not pertain to Scotland.
Issues of interpretation and/or understanding may also have had an impact at other questions. In particular, further comments suggest that not all respondents were clear as to the mechanism through which any ban might be introduced and how this would relate (or not) to either stricter regulation or a statutory welfare code.
Overall, however, there were clear and consistent patterns of answers across questions and these were reflected in the further comments made. This does suggest that the broader picture to emerge from the analysis (namely that respondents were relatively evenly divided between those favouring a ban and those wishing for no substantive action to be taken) is a fair reflection of the opinion of respondents to this consultation.
Email: Graeme Beale, email@example.com