20/11/2002

Policing Board scores well but public lack information

A survey published on the public's perception of the Policing Board has shown that the Board have scored well, but that some of the recent high-profile changes made under the Patton recommendations have fared less well.

The area of District Policing Partnerships in particular proved puzzling to those polled. For the first time the survey asked: "Have you heard of District Policing Partnerships (DPPs)?" Yet, despite a recent recruitment campaign for independent members for the DPPs, just over one third of respondents (37%) had heard of DPPs.

Conducted in September and October by the NI Statistics and Research Agency, 1200 people were interviewed across Northern Ireland.

Overall, the survey found that 71% of people thought that the Policing Board was working "adequately, well or very well," though one fifth of respondents thought that the Board was performing "poorly or very poorly". Eight-out-of-10 correctly identified the Board’s primary role as overseeing the police service and holding the Chief Constable and police service publicly to account.

Professor Desmond Rea, Chairman of the Policing Board said: “Having passed our first anniversary milestone earlier this month, it is very encouraging that seven-out-of-10 people think that the Board is working well and eight out of ten people understand our primary role.

“I believe that the Board has achieved much in its first year and these survey results reflect that. This is a tribute to all Board Members and the work that they have done so far and very encouraging for the future. There is however much still to be achieved.”

The Chairman welcomed the finding that over two-thirds of respondents (67%) thought that the police treated both communities equally - a 6% increase on April survey finding. Also 74% of people who had been in contact with the PSNI over the previous 12 months said that they had been "satisfied" with the police service.

General policing matters, as revealed in other recent surveys, were less well perceived - only three-quarters of respondents had either "total, a lot or some confidence" in the PSNI’s ability to provide an ordinary day-to-day policing service - a 6% decrease from April. Confidence too in the police service’s ability to deal with public order situations had fallen, down to 69% from 73% in April.

Professor Rea said: “Over the last year the Chief Constable has made the Board aware of the difficulties the police service faces in terms of resources and this has obviously been reflected in this and other Omnibus Surveys.”

He said that the Board would take "appropriate action" as it had in with the launch of the Human Resources Strategy for the police, would continue to monitor the situation, and hold the chief constable to account.

(SP)

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