New influences, ideas needed - How we perceive our police

YESTERDAY’S report on public perceptions of An Garda Síochána contains messages that if not entirely contradictory do not sit well together.

Two-thirds of crime victims were not satisfied with how their cases were dealt with by gardaí, yet a majority — 85% — trust our police and regard them as friendly, helpful and community-focused. Those who had been victims of crime, particularly burglary, criminal damage, assaults, or bicycle theft were least satisfied with the force’s response — 41% of these people were unhappy with how they were treated and almost one-in-five — 19% — said they were very dissatisfied.

A dangerously high ratio — 26% — did not bother to report a crime because they believed gardaí would not or could not do anything or that the crime was not serious enough. Significantly, more than half do not believe the force was either well managed or a world-class service.

It must be some comfort to the force’s hierarchy and the responsible minister — Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald — that the survey did not reflect the damning conclusions of recent peer reviews of the force. Nevertheless, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that An Garda Síochána is an organisation that would greatly benefit from an infusion of new ideas and a new can-do culture, one that would answer the obvious hopes of the public and the ambitions great majority of the force’s members.


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