Over 40% of crime victims frustrated with Garda’s response
Findings from survey of 6,000 people elicit disappointment from Garda
Only 4% of respondents to the Garda Síochána Public Attitudes Survey “strongly agreed” that the Garda was supplying a world-class police service. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
One in four victims of crime did not report the offence to gardaí and more than 40 per cent of those who did were dissatisfied with the force’s handling of their case, a survey of 6,000 people shows.
Senior Garda officers have expressed surprise and disappointment at the findings of the Garda Síochána Public Attitudes Survey, which shows 49 per cent of male respondents were “quite dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with how the Garda responded when they reported crimes. The satisfaction rates were slightly higher among women.
Only 4 per cent of respondents “strongly agreed” that the Garda was supplying a world-class police service, with 34 per cent saying they “agreed” it was.
In total, exactly 50 per cent of the 6,000 respondents either “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the statement the Garda supplied a world class service, the creation of which is the stated aim of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
When asked whether the Garda was well managed, only 4 per cent of respondents “strongly agreed” and 43 per cent “agreed”. Some 32 per cent “disagreed” while 8 per cent “strongly disagreed” and 13 per cent did not know.
The survey, carried out last year, has been published following an instruction from the Policing Authority to senior Garda management to do so.
Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan said the Garda would work harder to improve public perceptions of policing. “I’m certainly surprised at the levels of dissatisfaction, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
However, he pointed out that up to 88 per cent of people had “mid” or “high” trust levels in the force.
Mr O’Sullivan accepted it was a poor reflection on the Garda that 26 per cent of victims never reported the crime to the force and of those, 53 per cent felt there was no point doing so as the Garda would not or could not do anything.
Gardaí had work to do in that regard because many crimes could not be solved unless they were reported, he said.
Hearts and minds
He agreed some Garda members had by their manner alienated members of the public, but insisted this problem could and would be addressed through training and by changing the mindset.
“Some (gardaí) are very good. Some (gardaí) many not be as good as others. It’s important to reach a standard,” he said. “We’ve all had that experience, I’ve passed through checkpoints and I meet guards who are good and courteous and I meet guards who are perhaps discourteous. There are as many good stories as there are bad stories.”
Some 70 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the Garda service provided in their local community and 23 per cent were dissatisfied.
While 59 per cent believed the Garda was modern and progressive and 57 per cent believed the force was “effective in tackling crime”, one-third of respondents disagreed with both propositions.
The survey found 11 per cent of people had been the victim of a crime in the previous 12 months and that 74 per cent of those were repeat victims.
Of those who responded to the survey, 31 per cent said they believed crime nationally was a very serious problem. Some 45 per cent said it was a serious problem, 19 per cent believed it was something of a problem and 2 per cent stated it was not a problem.
However, when asked about how they regarded the crime situation in their own areas, just 7 per cent believed it as a very serious problem, 24 per cent a serious problem, 46 per cent something of a problem and 21 per cent stated that it was not a problem.