40% of victims unhappy with Garda response

Anne-Marie McMahon: Victim services up for review.

Four out of 10 victims of crime are dissatisfied with how gardaí handled their investigation, according to a survey.

And less than six in 10 of all people surveyed — victims and non-victims — said that gardaí were “effective in tackling crime” and less than half said the organisation was “well managed”.

The Garda Public Attitudes Survey 2015 found that three-quarters of the 6,000 people contacted believed that crime nationally was a serious or very serious problem.

However, just three out of 10 thought it was a serious or very serious problem in their local area.

The survey — the first such poll since 2008 — found that 682 people (11% of those surveyed) were victims of crime.

While 57% of victims said they were satisfied with how gardaí handled their case, 41% said there were dissatisfied; 22% quite dissatisfied, and 19% very dissatisfied.

It addition, 36% believed the level of information provided to them by gardaí was too little, while 16% said they were given no update on the progress of their investigation.

In relation to the effectiveness of gardaí, the survey found:

  • 73% of victims perceived gardaí as friendly and helpful (83% of non-victims);
  • 48% believed gardaí were community focused (63% non-victims);
  • 48% perceived the garda organisation as modern and progressive (60%);
  • 45% thought the force was effective in tackling crime (59%);
  • 37% thought the organisation was well managed (48%);
  • 28% believed the force provided a world-class service (39%).

The level of dissatisfaction was lowest among lower income groups (47% among C2DE compared to 35% among ABC1).

Speaking at the launch of the survey yesterday, Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan said he was “surprised” by the level of disappointment among victims.

He said that, while a lot had been done in this area, including the establishment of Victims Services Offices a year ago, “we certainly have to do more”.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “It’s about increasing the level of service to victims who have their house burgled etc, and it’s important we work closer with them.”

Assistant Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon said the finding that many victims felt they were not receiving enough information was “a particular concern”.

She said measures were being taken to improve matters, including a review of the Victims Services Offices and meetings with victims’ groups.

She said every victim who reports a crime should receive a letter from their station with a Pulse crime number, but the survey indicated that just a third of victims did.

In relation to the findings on the perceived effectiveness of the force in tackling criminality, Mr O’Sullivan said that perhaps the gardaí were “not getting the message out” about what they do.

“Unfortunately, behind the scenes, quite a lot of good work is being done which doesn’t get to the media,” he said.

Overall, the survey found that 70% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the service gardaí provide to the local community, and that 85% had trust in the organisation.

Perceptions that crime was a serious problem was highest among lower-income groups and farmers — and higher among Munster people than Dubliners.

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