Victims of crime falls but reporting to Gardaí increases survey reveals

Leinster Express Reporter

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Leinster Express Reporter

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Fewer people in Ireland were victims of crime last year but more victims are not reporting incidents, according to the Garda Public Attitudes Survey 2017.

The survey, which is published today, found that there was a 2% drop in the victimisation rate recorded in 2017 when compared to 2016, and a 5% fall from 2015.  According to respondents to the survey in 2017, 6% said they were victims of crime during the year.

The survey also found that 84% of victims reported their crime incident to An Garda Síochána – up from 75% in 2015. Burglary was the most commonly reported crime in 2016, followed by robbery (from a property) and theft of a car. The most common reason for non-reporting was a belief that Gardaí could not do anything.

Overall, 58% of victims were satisfied with how Gardaí handled their case in 2017, largely the same as last year. More victims felt that sufficient information was provided to them in 2017 (53%) compared to 2016 (48%), and 2015 (46%).

The survey also identified a notable gap between perceptions of crime levels locally and in the country as a whole. While 74% of people said national crime was a serious or very serious problem, 20% said local crime was a serious or very serious problem.

Levels of fear of crime, worry about victimisation and the effect of fear of crime on respondents’ quality of life all decreased between 2016 and 2017.

The survey also found that the majority of people are generally satisfied with the service provided by Gardaí. Between 2016 and 2017, satisfaction with the service provided by An Garda Síochána increased by 5%. Over three quarters of people (76%) were satisfied with the service provided to their local community by An Garda Síochána.

The nationally representative survey contains views of 6,000 people. The survey is conducted quarterly by Amárach Research on behalf of An Garda Síochána with a nationally representative sample of 1,500 people per quarter. The survey measures changes in public sentiment towards An Garda Síochána from 2015 to 2017.

More than one in three (36%) of Public Attitudes Survey respondents reported awareness of Gardaí patrolling their local area. In 2017, the proportion of respondents reporting Garda presence to be at the right level stood at 42%, up 6% on the previous year.

During 2017 the majority of participants agreed that An Garda Síochána was community focused, modern or progressive and friendly or helpful. Over two fifths of participants agreed that the organisation was effective in tackling crime (62%), while 42% of participants agreed that the organisation provided a world class police service and 46% agreed that it was well-managed.

In 2017, 89% of respondents had mid to high levels of trust in An Garda Síochána. 

Two new questions examining perceptions of fairness regarding treatment by members of An Garda Síochána were added to the survey in 2017. Over 90% (92%) of respondents agreed that members of An Garda Síochána would treat you with respect if you had contact with them for any reason, while 82% agreed that Gardaí locally treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are.

Among the unweighted booster sample of 16 and 17 year-olds there was a low rate of victimisation, low levels of fear and worry about crime, and, in general, this cohort were largely positive about An Garda Síochána and the service it provides to local communities.

Commenting on the survey results, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said it is very welcome that the survey found that the victimisation rate has continued to fall.

!The increase in crime reporting is also encouraging. It is also good to see concerns about crime at local level remain low and most people have few or no fears about crime. These results demonstrate the value of our approach to protecting and supporting communities through crime prevention and enforcement. They are also a testament to the commitment and professionalism of Garda members around the country. 

"The high levels of trust in An Garda Síochána and satisfaction with the service provided to local communities is positive. We do recognise though that there are areas for improvement such as keeping victims properly informed and visibility in the community, and we are working on measures to address these,” added Deputy Commissioner Twomey.

For full survey results, please visit www.garda.ie

The breakdown of the 2017 findings as per the Executive Summary are as follows:

Public perceptions of national and local crime

·         Approximately 3 in 4 (74%) said national crime was a serious or very serious problem;

·         Compared to 1 in 5 (20%) who said local crime was a serious or very serious problem.

Victims of crime

·         6% of respondents, or 383, were victims of crime – a 2% decrease on 2016;

·         84% of victims reported their crime to Gardaí – a 5% increase on 2016;

·         Burglary was the most reported crime type, followed by robbery (from a property) and theft of a car;

·         58% of victims were satisfied with the service provided by An Garda Síochána.

Fear and worry about crime

·         In 2017 60% of people reported having some fear of the level of crime in general;

·         30% reported their fear of crime impacted on their quality of life;

·         52% worried about becoming a victim of crime;

·         The proportion of respondents who had a lot or some fears about the level of crime was highest in Munster and lowest in Connaught/Ulster;

·         Those in Dublin reported that their fear of crime had the greatest impact on their quality of life.

Policing priorities

·         Top priorities for respondents were sexual offences (97%), human trafficking (94%) and assaults (91%);

·         Respondents would like An Garda Síochána to focus on crime against the person more so than other crime types;

·         Respondents with greater levels of fear of crime prioritised the reduction of assaults and robberies over human trafficking.

 

Garda visibility

·         Over 1 in 3 (36%) survey respondents reported that the Gardaí patrolled their local area regularly in 2017;

·         Awareness of Garda patrols and perceptions of Garda presence increased between 2016 and 2017;

·         In 2017 57% of respondents thought that Garda presence in their local areas was not enough.

Satisfaction with An Garda Síochána

·         Overall respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided to the community by Garda members;

·         Over three quarters of people (76%) were satisfied with the service provided to their local community by An Garda Síochána;

·         Respondents in Munster and Connaught/Ulster were more satisfied with the service provided to them by An Garda Síochána compared to those in other regions.

Trust in An Garda Síochána

·         In 2017, 11% of respondents had ‘low’ trust in the Garda organisation, 45% had a ‘mid’ level of trust, while 44% had a ‘high’ level of trust in the Garda organisation.

Equality of Treatment by An Garda Síochána

·         In 2017, two new questions were added to the Public Attitudes Survey. These questions asked respondents: would members of An Garda Síochána treat individuals with respect and whether police treat everyone fairly, regardless of who they are;

·         There was strong consensus among participants that Gardaí would treat them and others fairly if they had contact with them for any reason.

Perceptions of the Garda organisation

·         Respondents' views of An Garda Síochána in 2017 were more positive than during 2016

·         Respondents had a largely positive view with 70% agreeing it was community-focused, 66% modern or progressive, and 91% friendly or helpful; 

·         62% considered that the Garda organisation was effective in tackling crime;

·         Less than half of respondents agreed that the organisation was well-managed (46%).

16 and 17-year-old Booster Sample (unweighted)

·         16 and 17 years olds considered both the national and local crime problem as less serious than the main survey sample;

·         Levels of fear about the level of crime and worry about perceived victimisation were proportionally lower among booster sample respondents compared to the general adult population;

·         Overall perceptions of the effectiveness and capability of the Garda organisation among 16 and 17 year olds were largely positive.