A survey carried out by the Department of Justice has found that only 45% respondents had ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ confidence in the criminal-justice system as a whole.
Confidence was lower for previous victims of crime (37%), those from more disadvantaged areas (32%) and those with a lower understanding of the system (41%).
The findings were contained in the first Criminal Justice Public Attitudes Survey, for which just over 1,500 adults were interviewed in November and December last year.
More gardaí on streets
The survey also found that people using or dealing drugs was seen as the biggest problem in people’s local area. Just over half of those surveyed described drugs as ‘a problem’, with a further 24% viewing it as ‘a big problem’.
Burglary was next on the list (39%), followed by drunkenness or rowdiness (34%).
More than 70% of people saw having more gardaí on the streets as the main factor that contributes, or would contribute, to people feeling safer. More than 40% cited street lighting as a factor in feeling more secure.
Confidence in AGS tops 60%
The survey found varying levels of confidence in criminal-justice agencies, with more than three in five having ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ confidence in an Garda Síochána (AGS) being effective at solving crime, and a similar proportion believing that the force responded quickly to crime.
Confidence in the effectiveness of crime prevention by AGS was lower, however, at 54%.
Just under half were confident that the Department of Justice understood the needs of the public in relation to community safety, with a similar percentage confident that the department was effective in providing policies and legislation to help tackle and prevent crime.
On the Courts Service, 45% of respondents were confident that the organisation was managed effectively, while 40% were confident that it provided sufficient and accessible information to the public.
Almost half of those surveyed were confident that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) provided safe and secure custody for offenders who had been convicted of a crime.
Confidence in offender rehabilitation by the IPS, and prevention of re-offending by the Probation Service, was lower, however, at 32% and 28%, respectively. The department pointed out, however, that a higher proportion of people gave no opinion on these two agencies.
The survey found that just under one in five people had been a victim of crime, with the figure higher in Dublin (30%), and among those from more affluent areas (36%). One in ten had suffered from some type of online fraud.
Around one in seven people were ‘very worried’ or ‘fairly worried’ about being burgled, or having their car stolen or broken into.
Women were significantly more worried about being attacked by a stranger, or being mugged. Levels of concern among women for these two types of crime were close to 20%, compared with just over 10% for men.