Survey: Majority of people trust gardaí

Study done before breath test and college funds scandals broke

Nine out of 10 people trust An Garda Síochána and satisfaction levels are up, a Garda-commissioned survey reveals.

However, Garda chiefs accept the survey was conducted before the two main controversies enveloping the organisation — the breath test scandal and Templemore’s finances — emerged.

The survey compares the first quarter of 2017 with the first quarter of 2016 and finds positive trends in the bulk of indicators, although there are some drops since the final quarter of last year.

And three out of four people still believe crime is either a serious or very serious problem nationally and almost six out of 10 do not believe there is enough of a garda presence locally.

Conducted by Amarach Research, the Garda Public Attitudes Survey Q1 2017 found:

  • 92% of people have mid- to high levels of trust in the gardaí, up 4 percentage points (pp) since Q1 2016;
  • 74% said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by the gardaí, up by 12pp;
  • 36% said they were aware of garda patrols locally, up from 33%, although the same number said they were unaware (55%);
  • 41% considered the Garda presence locally was about right, compared to 35%;
  • 88% said Garda members were friendly or helpful, up from 80%;
  • 65% said the organisation was community focused, up from 56%;

In addition, 60% said the organisation was modern or progressive (52%), with 55% saying it was effective in tackling crime (48%).

Some 43% said the organisation was well managed, similar to Q1 2016 (42%) and 38% said the force provided a world class service (31%).

Gurchand Singh, head of the Garda Analysis Service, said Ireland’s trust levels were high in a European context and were just “slightly lower than the Scandinavian countries”.

He said people might wonder why trust was so high “with everything that is going on”, but said two main issues, the breath test issue and the Public Accounts Committee investigation of Templemore finances, only emerged in Q2, not Q1.

“I think if we are going to have an impact it will be in Q2 and we will look at it then,” he said.

The survey also found:

  • 74% of people perceived national crime to be either very serious or serious, down 2pp, while 21% considered local crime to be very serious or serious, down 6pp;
  • 6.9% of people were a victim of crime, down almost 3% and 84% of victims reported the crime, compared to 72%;
  • 67% of victims who reported they were satisfied with gardaí, up from 51% and 57% thought they were given the right amount of information, up from 39%;
  • 67% of people do not worry about being a victim of crime (57%), 48% have no fear about crime in general (40%), and 38% said the fear of crime had no impact on the quality of life (27%).

Mr Singh said the results were “certainly positive” and said the “trends are all going in the right direction”.

He said that while the sample for victim satisfaction levels was small, and caution was needed, he said the drop in victimisation rates, the increased reporting, and improved satisfaction rates with gardaí were “positive indications”.

He said this was also reflected in the improved figures on the fear of crime.

“All the trends make for a coherent story and the findings are not at odds with each other, they are consistent,” he said.

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