Irish attitudes towards the Gardai

An Garda Síochána’s Public Attitudes Survey for Q3 2017 has found a year-on-year reduction in the number of people who said they were victims of crime. There was a drop in the victimisation rate from 7.8% in Q3 2016 to 6.7% in Q3 2017.

According to the Survey, the vast majority of people – 70% - say that fear of crime has no impact on their quality of life. This is a 5% increase on Q3 2016. Nearly 40% of people have no fear about crime in general and 47% of people do not worry about becoming a victim of crime.

The Q3 2017 Survey also found a year-on-year reduction in the number of people who considered crime to be a very serious or serious problem in their area, that trust in An Garda Síochána remains high at 89%, and there has been an improvement in the perceptions of the Garda organisation as being community focused, modern and progressive, and effective in tackling crime.

The Survey did find a 14% decrease from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017 (64% to 50%) in satisfaction among victims with how their situation was handled when they reported their crime to Gardaí. It must be noted that as analysis is done on smaller proportions such as victims – for instance 100 respondents to the survey experienced victimisation in the previous 12 months – the margin of error increases, therefore such changes should be interpreted with caution.

The Garda Public Attitudes Survey, which is conducted by Amarach Research on behalf of An Garda Síochána, asks a nationally representative sample of 1,500 people each quarter their views on a range of issues relating to An Garda Síochána. The Q3 2017 survey was conducted between July and September of this year. 
The Public Attitudes Survey is one of a number of tools used by Garda management to determine future organisational and operational activity.

Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey commented: “It is very welcome that the survey shows less people are saying they have been victims of crime and perceptions of crime as being a serious problem nationally and locally are falling. This shows the value of our approach to tackling key crimes impacting on communities. However, this does not mean we will be complacent. Far from it. As we head into winter, we need to work even harder to ensure the communities we serve - both rural and urban - feel protected and are protected. After improvements in victim satisfaction in previous quarters, it is a concern to see such a large fall in victim satisfaction. This is something that we will be monitoring very closely and working to ensure that victims get the service and supports they need, deserve and are entitled to.”

The main findings of An Garda Síochána’s Public Attitudes Survey for Q3 2017 are:

Victims of Crime

- In Q3 2017, the victimisation rate was 6.7%. This compares with a rate of 7.8% for the same quarter last year.

- Satisfaction among victims of crime who reported their crime to An Garda Síochána fell 14% from Q3 2016 to 50% in Q3 2017.

- During Q3 2017, 80% of victims interviewed said they had reported their most recent crime incident. This is the same as in Q3 2016.

- The majority of victims (54%) felt the right amount of information had been provided to them. This is a 3% increase from Q3 2016.

Perceptions of Crime

- In Q3 2017, 76% of people perceived national crime to be either a very serious or serious problem down 1% from the same period in 2016.

- In Q3 2017, 21% of respondents considered crime in their local area to be a very serious or serious problem. This is down 2% compared to Q3 2016.

Fear and Worry about Crime

- During Q3 2017 nearly half (47%) of respondents said they did not worry about becoming a victim of crime – this is a 2% decrease from Q3 2016.

- 70% of people reported that their fear of crime had no impact on their quality of life – this is a 5% increase from Q3 2016.

Garda Visibility

- In Q3 2017, 37% of respondents were aware of Garda patrols in their local area – this is the same as in Q3 2016.

- In Q3 2017, 39% of respondents considered Garda presence in their local area to be at about the right level. This is an increase of 3% from Q3 2016, but is a decrease from 45% in Q2 2017 and 41% in Q1 2017.

Equality of treatment

The following two questions were asked for the first time in Q1 2017.

- 92% of respondents in the Q3 2017 survey said they felt members of An Garda Síochána would treat them with respect if they had contact with them for any reason. Since Q1 2017, the proportion of respondents agreeing with this statement has totalled 90% or above.

- When asked if Gardaí in their area treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are, 81% of people agreed. This has remained above 80% since the question was added to the survey in Q1 2017.

Satisfaction with An Garda Síochána

- In Q3 2017, 69% of respondents said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service provided by An Garda Síochána to local communities. This is up 1% from Q3 2016. It is down 2% from Q2 2017.

Trust in An Garda Síochána

- In Q3 2017, 89% of respondents stated they had a mid to high level of trust in An Garda Síochána. Over the last four quarters, trust has remained largely stable between 89% and 92%.

Perceptions of the Garda Organisation

- Between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017 there was an improvement in perceptions of the Garda organisation across three of the six measures of effectiveness and capability.

- In Q3 2017, 84% of respondents agreed that members of An Garda Síochána were friendly or helpful (down 3% from Q3 2016), 63% agreed that the organisation was community focused (up 1%), 58% thought the organisation was modern or progressive (up 2%), 55% said it was effective in tackling crime (up 5%), 36% said it was well managed (down 5%), and 35% thought An Garda Síochána provides a world-class police service (no change).

- There was an increase between Q2 2017 and Q3 2017 in providing a world class service (up 2%), and a decline between Q2 2017 and Q3 2017 in terms of the organisation being friendly or helpful (down 1%), well managed (down 6%), providing a world class police service (down 5%).  There was no change in effective in tackling crime, community focused, modern or progressive.

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