Garda to conduct market research on public opinion

An Garda Síochána is to carry out regular market research on image of force

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. Photograph: Frank Miller

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. Photograph: Frank Miller


An Garda Síochána is to carry out regular market research to gauge how the public thinks the force is working and where it can improve, after months of controversies.

The new research will be done once every three months and is part of changes by Garda management to “provide the best possible service”.

The last annual public attitudes survey was carried out by the Garda in 2008, but the new arrangement will allow for “flexibility of being able to see trends from quarter to quarter . . . without having to wait for annual results”.

An invitation to tender for the contract for the new public attitudes survey was posted by the Garda yesterday, and it is described as “a survey of public attitudes relating to satisfaction, victimisation, views on crime, and views on Garda service and how it can be improved”.

The cost of the research is not known and the Garda is unwilling to reveal its budget because the service is being openly tendered.


Ongoing changes

While a spokesman said the decision to resurrect the public attitudes survey is not a direct response to recent controversies, he added, “It is part of ongoing changes that Commissioner O’Sullivan and the senior management team are making so that An Garda Síochána can provide the best possible service.”


“The survey is part of our plans to ensure we are listening to the public about what they want from their police service.”

“The results will be used – along with other information gathered from things like engagement with stakeholders, Joint Policing Committees, feedback from within the organisation, CSO crime statistics – to inform the senior management team on areas that need to be focused on.”

While it is not known for how long the quarterly surveys will continue, they will be run for at least a few years “to maximise the data gained in terms of seeing short, medium and longer trends”.


Prioritising police work

The sample size will be 1,500 per quarter, and will be smaller than the previous annual surveys which were “hugely expensive and took a long time to complete”, according to the spokesman.


The questions asked, usually below 20, will be standard for every survey, apart from one topical question, which will change each time.

A list of sample questions ask respondents to agree or disagree strongly that An Garda Síochána is community focused, modern, progressive, friendly, helpful, a “world class police service”, making an effort to improve, well managed, and “focused on tackling crime”.

It also asks where the public would like to see Garda resources spent, and gives a number of choices to be ranked high, medium or low priority. These include investigating crime, foot or bike patrols, car patrols, enforcing traffic laws like speeding and drink driving, fighting drugs, as well as listing many other areas of law enforcement.

“Several of the questions are focused on victims of crime as we want to ensure that they are being helped to their satisfaction and, if not, how we can improve this,” the spokesman added. “The survey is nationally representative to enable us to seek the views of minority communities.

“The survey has been designed by An Garda Síochána to get the information we need in the most cost-effective way.”