While participatory forms of risk assessment and management have been the focus of much conceptualisation, experimentation, and evaluation, relatively less effort has gone into understanding how so called ‘analytic‐deliberative’ processes are developing across policy‐for‐real decision contexts. This paper develops a novel typology of citizen‐science interaction as a basis for analysing the nature and extent of recent participatory risk assessment practice in the UK. It draws on the reflections of professional actors operating across the UK environmental risk domain, focusing down on practice in the area of radioactive waste between 1998 and 2003. Compared with past science‐centred approaches, analysis shows an ‘opening up’ of risk decision processes to extended actors, knowledges, and values, with particular importance placed on public involvement in front‐end framing. This is being constrained by a failure to integrate engagement throughout decision processes, the exclusion of publics from assessing/evaluating environmental risks, and the upholding of a strict separation between citizens/science. These patterns of analytic‐deliberative practice — determined by contextual influences, barriers and challenges operating across UK environmental risk issue‐areas — highlight the need for further methodological development and systematic evaluation of relations between processes and outcomes.