Insider pressure groups have strong links with decision makers and are regularly consulted. Insider pressure groups are the groups that the government - local or national - considers to be legitimate and are, therefore, given access to decision makers. For example, insider groups might be included in regular meetings with ministers or civil servants and they might be included on lists for circulation of new government proposals. The fact that insider groups are part of the consultation process enables them to use direct methods in order to exert influence. Insider groups tend to be very powerful and long-term in terms of political influence. It is more common for sectional rather than promotional groups to be insiders, although this is by no means always the case.
Insider pressure groups are similar in one respect. Generally, they abide by the ‘rules of the game’. For example, they tend to respect confidences and not to make public attacks on ministers. Insider groups can be further divided into two categories. The first is institutions within the state apparatus. This category includes organisations such as the Church of England and the police force. They can be described as insider groups because they are involved in the consultation process as a matter of course when government proposals relevant to their activities are discussed. The second category is external groups. Whilst institutions within the state apparatus are consulted in the discussion process of governmental proposals, the same is not true of external groups with insider status. Instead they are the independent organisations such as trade unions, charities or pressure groups, which are called upon by the government to provide expertise when it is needed. The type of group selected varies according to the government’s ideological orientation and other factors such as public opinion. So, the type of external groups given insider status varies from government to government.