Rate your gardai – public will be asked what they want from force
GARDAI will carry out nationwide surveys every three months to gauge the views of the public on what they want from their police service.
The surveys will be used to determine what people want gardai to prioritise in their local community, how victims of crime feel they were dealt with by gardai, views on crime levels, and whether people feel the garda force is community focused and professionally run.
This will be the first major public attitudes survey to be carried out on behalf of the gardai in six years. Tenders are now being sought from companies to take on the project, and a deadline for responses has been set at August 5.
A garda spokesman said: "The survey is part of our plans to ensure we are listening to the public about what they want. Carrying it out on a regular basis will help us to properly track public sentiment so that we can continually improve how we deliver our service.
"Several of the questions will be focused on victims of crime as we want to establish they are being helped to their satisfaction and, if not, how we can improve this. The survey will be nationally representative to enable us to seek the views of minority communities."
The survey has been designed by the gardai to get the information they need in the most cost-effective way, the spokesman added, with the gardai potentially analysing the results in-house.
A nationally representative sample of 1,500 people will be used and each survey will involve between 12 and 15 questions. Issues to be covered in the questionnaires include the investigation of crime, foot or bicycle patrols, car patrols, enforcing traffic laws, drugs law enforcement, crime prevention, vandalism, support for crime victims, under-age drinking, targeting organised crime, domestic and sexual violence, and working with community groups.
Respondents will be asked how satisfied they are with the local policing service, their personal experiences with garda investigations and how much they trust the garda force.
The previous nationwide survey in 2008 found that two-thirds of the population believed drugs or drink were responsible for most crime in Ireland, and gardai should spend more time tackling underage drinking and clamping down on boy racers.
More than 80pc of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the overall service provided to the community by the gardai, largely in line with a survey the previous year; while 8pc felt a garda had acted unacceptably against them, mostly complaining that the officer had been disrespectful.
The rate of dissatisfaction was highest in Dublin south central where 14pc claimed a garda's behaviour had been unacceptable while the lowest was in Co Mayo where only 2pc of respondents complained.
Almost three-quarters of people said the service needed to be improved with the most frequent suggestions centring on garda recruitment, more foot patrols and longer station opening hours.
Since that survey, the overall strength of the force has fallen from a maximum of 14,500 to the current 12,930 while the number of garda stations has dropped from 703 to 550.