Only 50% believe Garda effective in tackling crime - survey

Garda survey shows number of people who have experienced crime down to 8%

Just 50 per cent of people believe An Garda Síochána is effective in tackling crime, the force’s Public Attitudes Survey 2016 has found. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Just 50 per cent of people believe An Garda Síochána is effective in tackling crime, the force’s Public Attitudes Survey 2016 has found. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

Just 50 per cent of people believe An Garda Síochána is effective in tackling crime, while almost six out of 10 people believe the force’s presence in their local area is insufficient, a new survey has found.

The Garda’s Public Attitudes Survey 2016 found 41 per cent of citizens reported a “high” level of trust in the force, while 47 per cent had a “medium” level of trust and 11 per cent had a low level of trust.

It marks a 2 per cent increase between 2015 and 2016 in the numbers reporting medium to high levels of trust, despite a number of high-profile scandals including questions over its treatment of whistleblowers and financial irregularities at the force’s Templemore training college.

Generally satisfied

Two thirds of respondents were generally satisfied with the service provided by An Garda Síochána, down three points from 2015.

Those living in Munster were most satisfied. Half of those surveyed (50 per cent) said An Garda Síochána was effective in tackling crime, which was down from 57 per cent in 2015.

The nationally representative survey contains views of 6,000 people and measures changes in public sentiment towards An Garda Síochána from 2015 to 2016.

It is conducted quarterly by Amárach Research on behalf of the force with a nationally representative sample of 1,500 people per quarter.

For the first time, the survey measured fear of crime and how it may impact on quality of life, as well as public perceptions of Garda visibility. While 59 per cent think Garda presence in local areas was not enough, 35 per cent reported that gardaí patrolled their local area regularly.

The percentage of those surveyed who reported being a victim of crime fell by three points to 8 per cent during 2016.

Of the 493 people who were victims of at least one crime, 387 (79 per cent) reported their most recent incident to gardaí. The most common crime experienced was burglary, accounting for 95 per cent of cases, followed by robbery from a property at 92 per cent and theft of a car at 89 per cent.

Not serious enough

The most common reason given for not reporting crime to An Garda Síochána was that the incident was not serious enough (30 per cent).

A large majority of those surveyed (77 per cent) continue to feel that crime nationally is a very serious or serious problem, but perceptions of crime locally as a very serious or serious problem fell between 2015 and 2016 from 31 per cent to 24 per cent.

Worries about becoming a victim of crime also decreased throughout the year. Some 43 per cent of people surveyed in the first quarter said they either had a lot of fear or some fear about crime, but this had fallen to 32 per cent in the fourth quarter.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said the force was engaged in a range of initiatives, including the modernisation and renewal programme and increased employment of civilians, which were designed to improve the situation.

Victim treatment

Local victims’ offices were also being established to ensure victims were treated in an appropriate manner.

He said organised crime and a high-profile gang-related feud in Dublin may provide an explanation for the perceptions of crime.

“Perhaps one of the explanations is that within Dublin for example last year we had deaths arising from organised crime and a particular feud. This year so far we have only had one death arising out of those circumstances.”

Charges had been preferred or files were with the Director of Public Prosecutions in almost all cases relating to murders resulting from that feud.