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How Dubliners are losing confidence in gardai on crime

Do Dubliners trust that the gardai can tackle crime? That is the question posed by this Millward Brown Lansdowne/Herald poll to a representative sample of 1,000 people in the capital.

Just over six in 10 people report confidence in the gardai to tackle crime such as burglaries, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

And the demographic group with easily the most confidence, at a rate of 75pc -- are the over-65s.

The middle-aged express much more concern: only 55pc of 35 to 49-year-olds are confident that their police can tackle crime effectively.

Personal experience, to some extent, lies behind these opinions: the over-65s have the most confidence and are the least likely to have been the victim of a crime in the past two years (12pc); in contrast, 20pc of 18-25s has been the victim of a crime, as have a similar number of 35-49s.


Interestingly, the phenomenon does not seem to be based on social class or geography, either north or south of the Liffey.

What about crime as an issue for voters?

Although only marginally more likely to have been the victim of a crime, just four in 10 Sinn Fein supporters have confidence in the force's success in tackling 'regular' crime.

It may be that SF supporters, who tend to have a less affluent economic profile, feel more vulnerable to crime.

Among the 16pc overall who have been a victim of crime in the past two years, there is evidence of erosion in the gardai's perceived ability to tackle crime.

Half of these victims express no confidence -- is this because there was no satisfactory outcome to the crime they fell victim to?

This apparent disconnect, between experience of crime and confidence in law enforcement is a gap the justice department should seek to bridge.

The other part of our question related to tackling gangland crime. Here a different picture emerges.

Equal numbers in Dublin are either confident or not confident in the Garda's ability to tackle gangland crime (46pc). Among the youngest (18-24) age group the view is surely of most concern: six in 10 of the capital's younger people do not have faith in the Garda's ability to defeat this menace.

Social class opinion is also divided on gang-related crime: blue-collar workers are much less likely to express confidence than the more affluent.


Again, Sinn Fein supporters stand out as a group who have very little belief that gangland crime is being tackled -- two in three say No to this question; a majority of Labour supporters are also of this view.

In contrast, a majority of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael supporters give the gardai a vote of confidence.

Perhaps of most concern is the point that people now differentiate between two different categories of crime: everyday crime committed by 'common criminals' and 'gangland' crime.

More worryingly still, most people believe our force is equipped to tackle the former, but for many people, not the latter. Only four in 10 people are confident the Gardai can tackle both types of crime.

It seems that in the view of many -- we have a two tier system of crime and a two tier level of success in tackling it.

James MacCarthy-Morrogh is account director with Millward Brown Lansdowne