Publication - Statistics

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Main Findings

Published: 15 Mar 2016
ISBN:
9781786521026

Main findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Main Findings
8. The Public and the Police

8. The Public and the Police

Overall, most people thought that local police were doing a good job

8.1. Introduction

Chapter 6 provided information on victims and the police in the context of reporting crimes and the support given specifically to victims. This chapter examines confidence in the police, attitudes to local policing and perceptions of the level of police presence in local areas, irrespective of whether the respondent had been a victim of crime.

The chapter reports on police confidence and on attitudes to policing in the local area, both in 2014/15 and over time. However, when asked for their attitudes towards police in their local area, a relatively high proportion of respondents said they either did not know, or that they neither agreed nor disagreed. For this reason, the majority of the reporting in this chapter focuses on the police confidence questions, which are broken down by police division, victim status and by area deprivation. The police visibility questions are reported over time and by area deprivation.

The 2014/15 survey is the first SCJS to examine public perceptions of confidence in the police in local areas since the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (which saw the eight legacy Police Force Areas combined to form Police Scotland[30]) and will be helpful in looking at the aims of reform, for example, to protect and improve local services .

8.2. Confidence in the Police

Respondents, were asked for their overall opinion on how the police were performing in their local area, regardless of whether they had ever been in contact with the police[31]. Overall, the majority of respondents said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, however this had fallen slightly from 61% in 2012/13 to 58% in 2014/15, while the proportion saying that the police were doing a fair job increased from 29% in 2012/13 to 30% in 2014/15 (the proportion saying the police were doing a poor or very poor job (8%), or saying don't know (3%) were unchanged).

Victims were less likely than non-victims to say the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area (48% and 60% respectively). Those living in the 15% most deprived areas also provided less positive responses than those living elsewhere in Scotland (53% and 59% respectively).

In every police division, the majority of respondents said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, although this proportion varied across the country. As shown in Annex A Table A1.13, when compared to the national average:

  • respondents in Forth Valley (63%), Highlands & Islands (64%) and Edinburgh City (65%) were more likely to say that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area;
  • respondents in Lanarkshire (53%) and Ayrshire (54%) were less likely to say that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area.

There has been no change in most police divisions between 2012/13 and 2014/15, however the proportion of respondents saying that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area fell in Aberdeen City (from 70% to 61%), in Lothian and the Scottish Borders (from 63% to 55%) and in Dumfries and Galloway (from 66% to 57%).

Respondents were also asked how confident they were in the ability of the police in their local area to undertake six specific aspects of police work. Figure 8.1 highlights that the majority of adults had confidence in their local police force across all six measures. For example, 70% of respondents had confidence in the police's ability to investigate incidents after they occur and 57% were confident in the police's ability to prevent crime.

Figure 8.1 Confidence in the police in the local area on specific aspects of police work (SCJS, 2014/15)

Figure 8.1 Confidence in the police in the local area on specific aspects of police work (SCJS, 2014/15)

Base: Adults (11,470)
Variable name: QPOLCONF

As shown in Table 8.1, since 2008/09, there have been statistically significant increases in public confidence across each of the six measures. Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, there were small but statistically significant decreases in four of the police confidence measures (the proportion of adults confident in their local police forces ability to investigate incidents, deal with incidents, respond quickly and solve crimes). The changes in the results for the other two measures (the proportion of adults confident in their local police forces ability to catch criminals and prevent crime) were not statistically significant.

Table 8.1 Changes in confidence in local police (SCJS 2014/15)

  percentage point change
Percentage of adults (Very/Fairly confident) 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15 2008/09 to 2014/15   2012/13 to 2014/15  
Investigate incidents after they occur 64 68 71 73 70 7 * -2 *
Deal with incidents as they occur 58 61 65 68 66 8 * -3 *
Respond quickly to appropriate calls
and information from the public
54 58 61 66 64 9 * -2 *
Solve crimes 57 60 64 64 62 5 * -2 *
Catch criminals 55 57 60 61 60 5 * -1
Prevent crime 46 48 50 56 57 11 * 1
Number of Respondents 16,000 16,040 13,010 12,050 11,470        

Variable name: QPOLCONF
Changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted with an "*".

Box 8.1 Police Confidence by Respondent and Area Characteristics

The SCJS is the preferred and recommended source for monitoring change in police confidence at the national level over time.

SCJS additional datasets[32] also provide breakdowns of questions by gender, age, victim status, social economic group, urban/rural, tenure, area deprivation (SIMD), Community Justice Authority and Police Division[33]. This report focuses on examining police confidence broken down by Police Division (Annex Tables A1.14 to A1.19), victim status (Table 8.2) and area deprivation (SIMD) (Figure 8.2).

Further breakdowns of these police confidence questions are presented in the Scottish Survey Core Questions (SSCQ) reports, which gather survey responses from identical questions in the SCJS, the Scottish Health Survey and the Scottish Household Survey into one output. The pooling of results from around 21,000 respondents enables analysis of results by characteristics such as country of birth, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age and sex, marital status, education level and economic activity, as well as tenure, car access and household type.

8.2.1. Police Confidence and Victimisation

As shown in Table 8.2, across each of the six measures of police confidence, non-victims of crime were more likely to be confident in the police than victims of crime.

Table 8.2 Percentage of adults very/fairly confident in police in the local areas ability to undertake specific aspects of work, by victim status (SCJS 2014/15)

Percentage of adults Victim Non-victim  
Investigate incidents after they occur 64 72 *
Deal with incidents as they occur 59 67 *
Respond quickly to appropriate calls
and information from the public
58 65 *
Solve crimes 53 64 *
Catch criminals 50 62 *
Prevent crime 46 59 *
Number of Respondents 1,550 9,920  

Variable name: QPOLCONF
Differences which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted with an "*".

8.2.2. Police Confidence by Area Deprivation

Compared to the rest of Scotland, those living in the 15% most deprived areas provided less positive responses overall. Each of the differences presented in Figure 8.2 (between the results provided by respondents from the 15% most deprived areas and those from the rest of Scotland) are statistically significant differences. For example, a lower proportion of those living in deprived areas, than those living elsewhere, were confident in police in their local area to prevent crime (56% compared with 57% for the rest of Scotland).

Figure 8.2 Confidence in the police in the local area on specific aspects of police work, by area deprivation (SCJS, 2014/15)

Figure 8.2 Confidence in the police in the local area on specific aspects of police work, by area deprivation (SCJS 2014/15)

Base: Adults (11,470)
Variable name: QPOLCONF

8.2.3. Police Confidence by Police Divisions

For each of the six measures, confidence in the police varied across the country[34]. For example, when compared to the Scottish average in:

  • Forth Valley, confidence was higher for four of the measures (respond quickly, investigate incidents, solve crimes and catch criminals);
  • Edinburgh City, confidence was higher for three of the measures (prevent crime, respond quickly and deal with incidents);
  • Highlands and Islands, police confidence was higher for four of the measures (deal with incidents, investigate incidents, solve crimes and catch criminals);
  • Lothian and the Scottish Borders, police confidence was lower across each of the six measures;
  • Aberdeenshire and Moray police confidence was lower across three measures (prevent crime, respond quickly and deal with incidents).

Furthermore, the changes in police confidence over time were not uniform across the country. For example:

Between 2008/09 and 2014/15

  • Confidence either increased or was unchanged across all six measures in each police division.

Between 2012/13 and 2014/15

  • Police confidence increased for some of the measures. Most notably statistically significant increases were seen in:
    • Forth Valley, across three of the measures (prevent crime, solve crimes, catch criminals).
    • Edinburgh, which had increased confidence in the ability of local police to prevent crime.
  • Police confidence did not change for many of the measures across divisions. For example, there were no changes in police confidence in any of the six measures in Aberdeenshire & Moray, Fife and Greater Glasgow.
  • Police confidence decreased for some of the measures in some police divisions. For example, there were statistically significant decreases in confidence in the local police in the:
    • Lothian and Scottish Borders, across each of the six measures.
    • Tayside, across four of the measures (respond quickly, deal with incidents, investigate incidents and solve crimes).
    • Highlands and Islands, for three of the measures (respond quickly, deal with incidents and catch criminals).

8.3. Attitudes to Police in the Local Area

To explore public attitudes to the local police, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about the police in their area[35]. As noted above, across many of these statements, a relatively high proportion of respondents said that they neither agreed or disagreed, or that they did not know, suggesting that some respondents did not feel able to provide an informed opinion on aspects of local policing.

Figure 8.2 shows that most adults (85%) agreed that local police would treat them with respect if they had reason to contact them, while 64% agreed that the police can be relied upon to be there when needed. Respondents were asked about the local police's relations with the community, 39% disagreed with the statement that the police in their area are not dealing with the things that matter to local people. It should be noted, however, that around a quarter of respondents neither agreed or disagreed with four of the attitudes to policing statements and, for each of those statements, more than one-in-ten respondents said that they didn't know.

Figure 8.3 Level of agreement with statements about local police (SCJS 2014/15)

Figure 8.3 Level of agreement with statements about local police (SCJS 2014/15)

Base: All respondents who are not in the police and no police officer in household (11,180)
Variable name: POLOP

8.3.1. Changes in Attitudes to Police Over Time

Table 8.3 shows the changes in attitudes to local police over time.

Since 2009/10 (when this question was first included in the survey) there have been statistically significant improvements in public attitudes to four of the statements:

  • a six percentage point increase in those who agreed that the 'the police in this area can be relied on to be there when you need them';
  • an eight percentage point decrease in those who agreed that 'the police in this area are not dealing with the things that matter to the people in this community';
  • a five percentage point decrease in those who agreed that 'community relations in this local area are poor';
  • an increase of three percentage points in those who agreed that overall, people have a lot of confidence in the police in this area.

Compared to the previous survey (2012/13), there were small but statistically significant changes in the proportion of adults who agreed with five of the statements.

  • a two percentage point decrease in those who agreed that the 'the police in this area can be relied on to be there when you need them';
  • an two percentage point decrease in those who agreed that 'the police in this area are not dealing with the things that matter to the people in this community';
  • a four percentage point decrease in those who agreed that 'the police in this area listen to the concerns of local people';
  • a two percentage point increase in those who agreed that 'community relations in this local area are poor';
  • a three percentage point decrease in those who agreed that overall, people have a lot of confidence in the police in this area.

Table 8.3 Changes in attitudes to polce over time (SCJS 2014/15)

Percentage of adults (Strongly/Tend to agree) 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15 2009/10 to 2014/15   2012/13 to 2014/15  
Police in this area can be relied on to be there when you need them 58 61 66 64 6.2 * -2 *
The police in this area would treat you with respect if you had contact with them for any reason 83 86 86 85 1.3 -0.8
The police in this area treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are 58 63 61 60 1.9 -1.4
Police in this area are not dealing with the things that matter to people in this community 31 29 25 23 -7.6 * -1.7 *
The police in this area listen to the concerns of local people 48 53 54 50 1.7 -4.1 *
Community relations with the police in this local area are poor 28 26 22 23 -4.8 * 1.6 *
Overall, people have a lot of confidence in the police in this area 43 47 49 46 3 * -3 *
Number of Respondents 16,036 13,010 12,045 11,472        

Variable name: POLOP

Changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted with an "*".

Box 8.2 Attitudes to the Police in England and Wales (CSEW, 2013/14)

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) also asks adults a range of questions about their perceptions of the police. However, while some of the CSEW questions are similar to those asked in the SCJS, the series of questions are not the same and the CSEW and SCJS results should not be directly compared against each other. The latest published CSEW findings (for 2013/14) are available in tables on the ONS Website[36].

8.4. Police Presence in the Local Area

A series of questions were asked about the police presence in the local area. This included awareness of police presence, and the importance of having a community police officer in the local area[37].

8.4.1. Awareness of Police Patrolling Local Areas

The majority of respondents were aware of police patrolling their local area regularly. The proportion saying that they were aware that the police patrolled their local area regularly decreased from 56% in 2012/13 to 52% in 2014/15. However, the 2014/15 result (52%) was similar to the results seen in earlier years (51% in 2010/11 and 52% in 2009/10, when this question was first asked).

Table 8.4 gives an overview of these findings, broken down by type of patrol. Awareness of police patrolling by car was the most common, with 46% reporting that they were aware of this happening regularly.

Table 8.4 Awareness of local police patrolling practices (SCJS 2014/15)

Percentage of adults not in the police and
not married to or living with a police officer
15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Yes 62 50 52
On foot 27 16 17
By bicycle 14 6 7
By car 54 44 46
No 33 42 41
Number of Respondents 1,670 9,510 11,180

Variable name: POLPATR

Awareness of police patrols was higher in the 15% most deprived areas, with 62% reporting that the police patrolled their areas regularly, compared to 50% for the rest of Scotland.

Respondents were asked about their awareness of local police patrolling in the last month. Table 8.5 gives an overview of the results, broken down by area deprivation. People living in deprived areas were more likely to notice more regular patrolling than those living in the rest of Scotland. For example, 32% noticed police patrolling every couple of days, compared to 18% of those living in the rest of Scotland.

Table 8.5 Perception of frequency of police patrolling in local area (SCJS 2014/15)

Percentage of adults not in the police and
not married to or living with a police officer
15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Daily 14 8 10
Every couple of days 32 18 21
Once a week 21 22 22
At least fortnightly 10 14 13
Once in the last four weeks 9 15 13
Have not personally seen them 13 21 19
Number of Respondents 489 1,605 2,094

Variable name: POLPATRF

8.4.2. Opinion on Local Police Presence

Respondents were asked whether they felt that the police presence in their local area was not enough, about right, or too much.

Table 8.6 gives an overview of these results, broken down by deprivation. The overall result was split between respondents who thought that there was not enough of a police presence locally (47%) and those who thought that it was about right (48%). Over half (52%) of adults in the most deprived areas said that they thought that the police presence in their area was not enough, compared to 47% in the rest of Scotland.

Table 8.6 Perception of Local Police Presence (SCJS, 2014/15)

Percentage of adults not in the police and
not married to or living with a police officer
15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Not enough 52 47 47
About right 43 49 48
Too much 1 0 1
Don't know 4 4 4
Number of Respondents 1,670 9,510 11,180

Variable name: POLPRES.


Contact

Email: Trish Brady-Campbell