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Garda finds nearly third of people it deals with unhappy with police force

Published 25/04/2016

The Garda found in its own study that nearly one third of people who deal with the force are unhappy with it
The Garda found in its own study that nearly one third of people who deal with the force are unhappy with it

Almost a third of people who deal with the Garda are not happy with the force, its own research has found.

A survey, not yet published, ordered by Garda headquarters also revealed younger people and men are more likely to be dissatisfied with their experience of policing.

The findings were mentioned during the new Policing Authority's first ever public questioning of Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan on how the force is being run.

The Garda chief asked Gurchand Singh, her head of analysis services, to tell the watchdog about how the public perceive policing.

Mr Singh said a recent study carried out for the force found "about an 85% trust level, a medium to high trust level" in the Garda.

"In terms of our satisfaction, we have a very good satisfaction measure of around 70%," he added.

Pressed further about the breakdown in the figures, Mr Singh revealed higher satisfaction levels among women who had dealt with gardai compared with men.

"Satisfaction increases with age, younger groups had the lowest levels of satisfaction," he told the Policing Authority meeting at Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin.

He later disclosed that 64% of people aged between 18 and 24 said they were happy with the Garda.

Judith Gillespie, former deputy chief constable of the PSNI who is a member of the Policing Authority, pointed out "that's more than third [who are] not satisfied."

Residents in rural areas are also more likely than those who live in cities to be pleased with their experience of the gardai, according to the study.

Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily has urged Garda chiefs to publish the findings.

Researchers are also asking the public about their fear of crime and how that impacts upon them.

Furthermore, a "booster survey" has been ordered to find out the feelings of minority communities in particular, who traditionally have had higher levels of fear of crime.

Referring to recent gangland murders in Dublin, Ms O'Sullivan said investigations were progressing well and that organised crime remains a priority.

Since last March, when the new merged Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau was set up, there have been 200 arrests by the specialist unit, she said.

More than 36 million euro worth of drugs were taken off the streets and 36 firearms were seized, along with explosives and ammunition, over the same period, she added.

Quizzed about Garda station closures, Garda Deputy Commissioner Donall O'Cualain said there had been a "fairly trouble free transmission" in those areas.

Beefed-up patrols and Garda "clinics" were put into neighbourhoods where stations shut down over recent years, he said.

Ms O'Sullivan also told the meeting that the Garda was in the final stages of its revamped diversity strategy.

Asked if she was happy that just a quarter of her rank and file are women, she said a recent recruitment campaign was focused particularly on women as well as others under-represented such as gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Some 17,000 applicants are from "all walks of life" and there are early indications that a lot of them are from diverse backgrounds, she added.

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