IPCC Study Maps Out Public’s Perception of the Police

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9th July 2014 14:44 - Professional Services

A study commissioned by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has uncovered the public’s perception of the police in their local area and the IPCC itself.

The survey, conducted with over 4,000 people in England and Wales, exposed the fact that almost one quarter (23%) of its sample had been in contact with the police in the last 12 months. This is a statistically significant increase in the last three years from the previous study’s figures – one fifth (20%) in 2011.

When broken down, the results indicated that people from a minority ethnic background (13%) were half as likely as individuals from a white background (26%) to contact the police.

When interacting with the police, the 2014 edition of the study showed that 66% of respondents were either happy or very happy with their experience – similar to the survey’s first ever findings in 2004 (65%), but 10% down on 2011’s peak (76%).

However, ethnic minorities were less likely to be satisfied with their contact with the police now (56%) than in 2004 (61%), compared to the 3% rise in happiness from people from a white background.

Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents said they would complain if they were not happy with the contact they received from the police. Participants under the age of 25 were significantly less likely to protest.

Furthermore, over three fifths (62%) were confident they knew how to make a complaint against the police – 15-24 year olds were the least assured age category.

However, notably, 43% were not confident that their complaint would be dealt with fairly by the police, compared to the one third (35%) who were confident.

Almost two thirds (65%) of the sample said they trust the police to tell the truth – this situates the police service above civil servants and politicians, but below doctors, judges and teachers.

As a whole, awareness of the IPCC has marginally risen from 2004 (62%) to 2014 (64%), however, awareness levels differ somewhat for BME respondents (32%) and people from a white background (74%).

The television (58%) remains the most dominant source of awareness, with newspapers (14%) and word of mouth (8%) a distant second and third.

The survey’s findings show that the public are becoming increasingly confident that the IPCC acts impartially, with assurance levels rising 12% between 2004 (65%) and 2014 (77%).

The majority of the public are also in agreement that the IPCC is dealing well with its core objectives:

  • Improving the way the police deal with complaints – 53%
  • Ensuring the police services learn from complaints – 53%
  • Raising standards in police forces to ensure that mistakes are not repeated – 52%
  • Identifying police misconduct – 52%

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