More than 90% of people across the country trust An Garda Síochána, a new Garda Public Attitudes Survey has revealed.
The public’s perception of the seriousness of crime at a local level decreased again last year as did their concern about becoming a victim of crime, according to the 2019 Garda Public Attitudes Survey.
The survey also found that trust in and satisfaction with An Garda Síochána remained high.
The survey of 6,000 people across 2019 found that 18% of people believed local crime was a “serious” or “very serious” problem. This is a decrease from 2016 when the figure was 23%.
In addition, 55% of people said they did not worry about becoming a victim of crime. This is an increase from 2017 (48%) and 2018 (49%).
The victimisation rate decreased from 6% in 2018 to 4.4% in 2019.
Trust in An Garda Síochána has increased from 90% in 2018 with 91% of respondents to the 2019 survey saying they have a medium to high level of trust in the organisation.
Satisfaction with An Garda Síochána remains at a high level with 80% of respondents satisfied with Garda services to local communities. The highest level of satisfaction was among 18-24 year olds (83%).
The survey also found that 16 and 17 years old are not as concerned about becoming victim of crimes as adults, that 88% have a mid to high level of trust in An Garda Síochána, which is up 2% on 2018, and 85% were satisfied with the service from Gardaí. 90% of 16 and 17 year olds also felt Gardaí would treat individuals with respect, and the same amount said Gardaí were “friendly and helpful”.
In general, 95% of those surveyed believe that they would be treated with respect if they had any contact with An Garda Síochána, and 86% said Gardaí would treat you fairly regardless of who you are.
Also, 76% agreed that Gardaí can be relied to be there when they are needed. The vast majority of respondents said that Gardaí listen to concerns of local people (86%).
97% of all respondents were of the opinion that sexual offences should be the top policing priority for An Garda Síochána. This was the case regardless of gender, age, social class or nationality. The only group where this differed was victims of crime, who ranked ‘illegal weapons’ as their top priority.
Human trafficking, illegal weapons and robbery featured highly across all demographics in terms of priorities for An Garda Síochána.
In 2019, there continued to be an increase in the number of people who said that An Garda Síochána is community focussed (73%), friendly and helpful (94%), effective in tackling crime (68%), well managed (59%), and modern and progressive (71%). In particular, there was an 11% increase from 2018 in the view of respondents that the organisation was well managed.
Commenting on the results, Deputy Commissioner Policing & Security, John Twomey, said: “As An Garda Síochána is focused on keeping people safe, it is very welcome to see there were fewer people concerned about crime and a decrease in the victimisation rate last year. This is also reflected in the strong trust in and satisfaction with the service we provide to communities. This is a testament to the hard work and effort by Garda personnel on a daily basis.
“The benefit of our approach of policing by consent and in partnership with communities can also be seen in that the public strongly believes we would treat them and others fairly and with respect.
“The perception of An Garda Síochána among young people is also very positive, with trust and satisfaction levels remaining high among that age group. It is vital that we work hard as an organisation to maintain this.”
Other key findings of An Garda Síochána Public Attitudes Survey for 2019
• Less than 20% of people perceive local crime as ‘serious’ or ‘very serious’
• Victimisation rate down to 4%
• Fewer people worry about becoming a victim of crime
• 80% satisfied with Garda service to local community
• High trust and satisfaction rates among 16 and 17 year olds
• Majority of people view An Garda Síochána as effective in tackling crime, community-focused, modern and progressive, and well-managed
Victims of Crime
The victimisation rate of 3.5% in quarter 4 of 2019 is the lowest rate in the last three years. This rate has been declining steadily since Q2 2018, when the victimisation rate was 7.9%. The only exception to this was the Q2 figure of 2019 where the rate was 5.3%. Of the 6,000 respondents to the 2019 survey, 261 were victims of crime, with 30 stating that they had been a victim of crime on more than one occasion. The victimisation rate for 2019 is 4.4%, a decrease from 6% in the 2018 survey.
61% of respondents were satisfied with how Gardaí handled their case. This is an increase of 4% from the 2016 figure.
There was an 80 percent reporting rate to Gardaí. 206 of the 261 victims of crime in this sample reported their most recent crime. 54% felt that the information received from Gardaí during their incident was satisfactory, an increase of 6% from 2018.
Fear and Worry about Crime
55% of all respondents do not worry about becoming a victim of crime. This is an increase from the 2017 and 2018 survey, where 48% and 49% of respondents did not worry about becoming the victim of crime. 28% of people surveyed worried about being a victim of both personal injury and property theft or damage. This is a significant decrease on the 2017 and 2018 surveys with 40% and 37% worrying about being a victim of both of these crimes.
Respondents who has been victims of crime (45%) in the preceding 12 months were more likely to worry about future victimisation of both personal injury and property theft or damage than non-victims of crime (27%).
3% of those surveyed have a lot of fears about the level of crime nationally which remains the same as 2018 and a decrease of 1% from 2017. 72% of persons surveyed have no fears or very few fears about crime levels in Ireland. This is an increase of 5% from 2018.
39% of all surveyed were aware of Garda patrols in 2019. This has continued the trend which has seen a yearly increase from 2016, where 35% of individuals that were surveyed stated that they were aware of a patrol and 38% in 2018 for the same question.
The proportion of respondents unaware of Garda patrols continues to decrease with only 50% unaware of any patrol in their area. This figure has decreased consistently from 2016 where 56% were unaware.
The number of respondents who felt that Garda presence was not enough in their local area currently stands at 55%. This is a significant decrease from the 2018 figure of 61%.
80% of respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with the service from Gardaí. This is an increase of 4% from 2017 and the same as the 80% figure from 2018. 11% of respondents are very satisfied with the Garda service to their local communities. This is an increase of 1% from 2018.
Trust in An Garda Síochána
Trust in An Garda Síochána has increased from 2018 by 1%. 46% of those surveyed have a high level of trust in the organisation. This is an increase of 4% from 2018 where 42% of respondents had a high level of high trust. There has been a decrease in the number of individuals who have a low level of trust in An Garda Síochána. 9% have a low level of trust in the organisation, a 2% decrease from 2018.
Treatment by An Garda Síochána
95% of all respondents were of the belief An Garda Síochána would treat you with respect if you had contact with them for any reason. This is an increase of 5% from 2018.
89% of respondents who had been victims of crime in the previous 12 months agreed that Gardaí would treat them with respect should they have contact with them for any reason. This is an increase of 3% from the 2018 figures.
Over three quarters of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the Gardaí in their area can be relied on to be there when they are needed. 76% of respondents in 2019 were of this belief, an increase from 75% in 2018.
70% of those surveyed disagreed with the statement that ‘community relations with the Gardaí are poor’. This is a significant increase from 2018 where 64% of respondents disagreed that community relations were poor.
86% agreed that Gardaí listen to the concerns of local people, an increase of 3% from 2018.
65% disagreed with the statement that Gardaí are not dealing with things that matter to the community. This is a 7% increase from 2018 where 58% of respondents disagreed with the statement.
Perceptions of An Garda Síochána
There has been an increase in the number of people who feel that An Garda Síochána is community focussed (73%), friendly and helpful (94%), effective in tackling crime (68%), well managed (59%), modern and progressive (71%).
There has been a significant increase in those that feel Gardaí are effective in tackling crime. Each of these figures have been progressing steadily in the past three years. In 2017 and 2018, 62% and 64% respectively of respondents felt that the organisation was effective in tackling crime.
2019 has seen a significant increase in the view of respondents of how well managed An Garda Síochána is. The figure of 59% is an 11% increase on 2018.
In general, views of An Garda Síochána’s effectiveness and capability have been trending upwards since 2017.
Booster Sample (16 and 17 year olds)
For the third consecutive year the views of 16 and 17 year olds were captured within the Public Attitudes Survey. Inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the survey is crucial to the understanding the views of this important cohort on Gardaí, their experiences with crime and victimisation, and the Garda organisation in general.
Only 2% of this age group are very dissatisfied with An Garda Síochána. This is a decrease on the previous two years where the figure 3% of respondents in this category were very dissatisfied with An Garda Síochána. 85% of all respondents in this category were either very satisfied or quite satisfied.
42% of respondents in this age group had a high level of trust in An Garda Síochána. This is an increase of 2% from 2018 where only 40% of those surveyed had a high level of trust in An Garda Síochána.