Most happy with gardaí but want improvement - survey

Sun, Oct 12, 2008, 01:00

A survey to be published tomorrow has found that most people are satisfied with the service provided by the Garda Síochána but that the force needs to be improved.

Seven out of ten people believe the Garda needs to be improved, but 81 per cent of the population are satisfied with the overall service provided to the community, a survey carried out for the force reveals.

The Garda Public Attitudes Survey, published tomorrow, also shows almost one in the ten people believe a Garda officer has acted unacceptably towards them.

The poll by Millward Brown IMS saw 10,000 participants interviewed - 400 in each of the 25 Garda divisions - by face-to-face interviews between January and April of this year.

The overall satisfaction rate remained the same as last year with the lowest rates of satisfaction with the force among those in local authority housing.

Some 72 per cent of respondents felt the Garda service needed improvement, the most frequent suggestions being for more officers, more foot patrols, more contact with the community and longer station opening hours.

Nine out of ten people (91 per cent) described their local gardaí as either very approachable or approachable while only four in ten (39 per cent ) knew an officer in the nearest station by name.

Some 8 per cent of the population said a Garda member had acted in an unacceptable way towards them at some time, similar to the figure in last year’s poll.

This rate was highest in the Dublin divisions, with 14 per cent of respondents in Dublin south central reporting unacceptable Garda behaviour against them compared with just 2 per cent in Mayo.

The most frequent type of unacceptable behaviour was that a Garda had been disrespectful or impolite.

Fewer than half (44 per cent) of those who reported crime were satisfied with being kept informed of progress in the investigation, the survey found.

For those who called the gardaí in an emergency, telephone response times had improved on the last three years, but overall satisfaction with the call-out service was down 5 per cent to 65 per cent.

Victim rates remained almost the same with 9.2 per cent of the population, down very slightly, saying they or someone in their home had been targeted by criminals last year.

Crime rates were more than double the national average in the Dublin south central division, which along with Longford/Westmeath had the highest number of victims.

Mayo, Cork West, Clare and Sligo/Leitrim, at less than half the national average, recorded the lowest level of victims.

Domestic burglary, criminal damage to a vehicle, physical assault, criminal damage to a home or other property and theft from vehicle were the most prevalent crimes.