Public’s satisfaction with and trust in Garda decline, survey shows

Fall in the number of people who said they had been the victim of crime, research finds

Satisfaction with the Garda Síochána among people who reported crimes to the force was at 61 per cent in the second quarter of the year, 9 per cent higher than the same period last year. Photograph: Frank Miller

Satisfaction with the Garda Síochána among people who reported crimes to the force was at 61 per cent in the second quarter of the year, 9 per cent higher than the same period last year. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Fewer Irish people are falling victim to crime this year than last, but the Irish public is also less satisfied with the Garda Síochána and trusts the force less, according to a new survey.

However the latest public attitudes survey into the Garda suggests recent policing controversies are taking their toll.

Levels of general satisfaction with the Garda dipped, by three points, to 71 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

The number of people who expressed “low trust” in the Garda increased to 12 per cent in the second quarter of this year, an increase of four points on the previous quarter.

The 1,500 survey respondents were all interviewed in the period immediately after it emerged that gardaí had been inflating alcohol breath tests and thousands of motorists had been wrongly convicted.

Other findings were more positive for the Garda.

There was a fall in the number of people who said they had been the victim of crime, from 9 per cent last year to just below 6 per cent this year.

Reported crime

There was also an increase in the number of victims of crime who went to the Garda and reported the crime. Specifically, 86 per cent questioned in the second quarter of this year said they reported the crime committed against them – an increase of 10 per cent on the reporting levels of a year earlier.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey described as “very welcome” the lower number of people who said they had fallen victim to crime and for whom crime was a worry. This shows the value of our approach to tackling key crimes impacting on communities,” he said.

Mr Twomey noted that people who had become crime victims were now showing more satisfaction than before about the Garda’s response.

“The increase in satisfaction among victims also demonstrates we have taken onboard the concerns of victim groups and the Garda Inspectorate by improving our service to victims,” he said.

Overall many patterns in the public attitudes survey, conducted by Amárach consultants and published by the Garda quarterly, are favourable for the force.

Satisfaction with the Garda among people who reported crimes to the force was at 61 per cent in the second quarter of the year, some 9 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Some 25 per cent of respondents believed crime nationally posed a “very serious problem” compared with 41 per cent in the second quarter of last year. Back then the Kinahan-Hutch feud had just begun in Dublin with several gun murders in quick succession.

Fear of crime

Similarly, when respondents’ fear of crime was examined it emerged they were less fearful this year than last.

For example, 73 per cent said fear of crime had no impact on their quality of life compared to 61 per cent last year. And while 34 per cent of people reported having “no fear about crime in general” last year, this has now increased to 41 per cent having no fear.

Respondents were also more content with the “Garda presence” in their locality this year than last.

In the second quarter of this year, 45 per cent of people believed the Garda presence locally was “about right” and 55 per cent said it was not enough. This is about 10 percentage points up on last year.