Sexual offences and human trafficking were the top two policing priorities identified by members of the public in 2020, a survey has found.
Robberies, illegal weapons, assaults and drugs offences were the next top priorities, according to the survey carried out by Amarach Research on behalf of An Garda Siochana.
Some 66% of people view national crime as a very serious or serious problem, while 15% see local crime as a very serious or serious problem.
Perceptions of national crime as a serious problem were higher amongst older age groups, while perceptions about national and local crime as a serious problem were higher in Dublin.
Some 30% of respondents reported they did not worry about themselves, or anyone they live with, becoming a victim of crime.
Women reported a greater level of worry about themselves, or someone they live with, becoming a victim of crime than men.
Higher proportions of younger people worried about becoming the victim of personal injury than any other age group.
Victims of crimes in the preceding 12 months reported greater levels of worry of future victimisation as opposed to non-victims of crime.
Women, older respondents and those from Dublin reported greater fears about the level of crime in Ireland, as did victims of crime in the previous 12-month period.
Some 44% of respondents reported that a fear of crime had “no impact” on their quality of life, with 8% saying it had “greatly reduced” or “significantly reduced” their quality of life.
This increased to 11% for respondents who had been a victim of crime in the previous 12 months.
Meanwhile, 81% of people said they had mid to high levels of trust in An Garda Siochana.
Older respondents expressed higher levels of trust, as did rural respondents, while people who had a greater awareness of garda patrols expressed a greater trust in the force.
Some 86% of respondents either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that gardai would treat you with respect if you had contact with them for any reason, and 69% “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that gardai in their area treat everyone fairly, regardless of who they are.
Older age groups expressed greater agreement with the statement “that gardai would treat you with respect if you had contact with them for any reason” than younger age groups.
Half of 18 to 24-year-olds “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that gardai in their area treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are.
Some 63% “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that gardai can be relied on to be there when you need them.
Seventy-two per cent of people “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that gardai listen to the concerns of local people, while 60% “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with the statement that community relations with the gardai are poor.
In the 2020 Online Garda Survey, 20% of respondents said they were the victim of crime in the previous 12 months.
This is a much higher victimisation rate than is typically found in nationally representative surveys, and reflects the opt-in nature of the online survey.
Some 26% of those who reported being a victim in the survey were the victim of online fraud and 18% were the victim of criminal damage.
We have already started to address some of these (findings) and further improvements to how we provide our service will be made over the coming yearDrew Harris, Garda Commissioner
The high number of online fraud victims mirrors the sharp increase in this crime during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While reporting rates varied by crime type, theft of a car was most likely to be reported at 87%.
Victimisation rates were higher amongst younger people and for those living in city areas.
Some 53% of victims reported being very satisfied or satisfied with how gardai handled their case, with 61% reporting that the gardai responded quickly when they reported the incident, and 68% were provided with contact details.
Whilst 44% of victims who reported their crime felt they received about the right amount of information afterwards, 26% thought it was too little and 30% said they received no satisfactory updates.
The survey was carried out over four months from September to December in 2020.
Some 6,000 adults were surveyed, while a smaller sample of younger people, aged 16 to 17, were also surveyed, with parental consent, in November 2020.
The Garda cautioned that an online survey is not as representative of the population as is desirable because older adults and those in less urban areas are under-represented.
It said that respondents represent a much higher level of urban dwellers and as a result, the survey is referred to as an “urbanised cohort”.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “Although we were unable to run a public attitudes survey in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the online survey provides An Garda Siochana with valuable insights into the views of victims of crime and urban dwellers.
“I am pleased with the high levels of trust and positive public engagement.
“The findings have been carefully considered by my senior management team and, as with any survey, this online survey highlights areas of concern and where An Garda Siochana can improve.
“We have already started to address some of these and further improvements to how we provide our service will be made over the coming year.”