Almost 9 in 10 people have a high to medium level of trust in An Garda Síochána, but perceptions of the effectiveness and capability of the organisation have decreased slightly.
That’s according to the Garda’s Public Attitudes Survey 2016 which is published today. It identified a 2% increase in the number of respondents reporting ‘mid’ to ‘high’ levels of trust in the Garda from 86% in 2015 to 88% in 2016.
The survey found that the majority of people - 67% - are generally satisfied with the service provided by An Garda Síochána, but this fell from 70% in 2015. People in Connaught / Ulster are most satisfied. Half of those surveyed (50%) said An Garda Síochána was effective in tackling crime, which was down from 57% in 2015.
The nationally representative survey contains views of 6,000 people and measures changes in public sentiment towards An Garda Síochána from 2015 to 2016. The survey is conducted quarterly by Amárach Research on behalf of An Garda Síochána with a nationally representative sample of 1,500 people per quarter.
For the first time, the survey measured fear of crime and how it may impact on quality of life, as well as public awareness of Garda visibility.
Fewer people in Ireland were victims of crime in 2016, according to the survey. There was a 3% drop in the victimisation rate recorded - down to 8% in 2016. It was identified that 79% of crime victims report their incident to An Garda Síochána – up from 75% in 2015. The most common reason for non-reporting was a belief that a crime was not serious enough. Burglary was the most commonly reported crime in 2016, followed by robbery (from a property) and theft of a car.
Overall, 57% of victims were happy with how Gardaí handled their case in 2016, largely the same as last year. More victims felt that sufficient information was provided to them in 2016 compared to 2015. However, satisfaction with how quickly the Gardaí respond to incidents dropped by 3% to 60%.
Respondents continue to feel that crime nationally is a very serious or serious problem (77%), but perceptions of crime locally as a very serious or serious problem fell between 2015 and 2016 from 31% to 24% with decreases each quarter since the beginning of 2016.
In addition, throughout 2016 levels of fear of crime and worry about victimisation decreased. In Q1 2016 43% of people said they either had a lot of fear or some fear about crime, by Q4 2016 this had fallen to 32%.
Crime types the public would like Gardaí to prioritise most are robberies (91%), sexual offences (91%) and illegal weapons (90%).
The majority of participants agreed that An Garda Síochána was community-focused (61%), modern or progressive (55%), and friendly or helpful (83%). Just over half (51%) disagreed that it provides a world-class service. Views are split down the middle on the question of whether the organisation is well-managed, with 42% stating it was and 42% stating it wasn’t. The remaining 16% had no view.
While 59% think Garda presence in local areas was not enough, 35% reported the Gardaí patrolled their local area regularly. Awareness of Garda patrols and perceptions of Garda presence steadily increased through 2016. Those in Munster (40%) and Connaught/Ulster (42%) were more likely to report awareness of Garda patrols locally, whereas respondents in Dublin (30%) and the rest of Leinster (31%) were less likely to report awareness.
The 2016 Garda Public Attitudes Survey is available from www.garda.ie.