Findings from the 2020/21 Northern Ireland Safe Community Telephone Survey published today

Date published: 31 March 2022

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘Findings from the 2020/21 Northern Ireland Safe Community Telephone Survey’ (NISCTS).

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An Official Statistics publication, the bulletin focuses on key modules contained within the NISCTS relating to:

  • experience of crime
  • perceptions of crime
  • perceptions of policing and justice
  • perceptions of organised crime

Key Findings

  • Results from the 2020/21 NISCTS indicate that most adults/households did not experience a crime asked about in the survey. Latest findings estimate that 3.9% of adults/households were victims of at least one crime measured through the survey during the 12 months prior to interview.
  • Respondents were more positive in their perception of crime trends in their local area than at the regional level with 25% believing local crime levels had increased in the preceding two years compared with 55% for Northern Ireland as a whole.
  • One-in-ten (10%) respondents expressed a high level of worry about burglary with a similar proportion, 8%, very worried about becoming a victim of violent crime. Of vehicle owners, 5% were very worried about becoming a victim of car crime.
  • Overall public confidence in the police and police accountability arrangements in Northern Ireland as a whole (based on a seven-strand composite measure) was 86% in 2020/21.
  • In terms of the local police, findings suggest that 62% rated their local police as doing an excellent or good job. When asked about overall confidence in their local police, three-in-four (75%) respondents stated that, when taking everything into account, they had confidence in the police in their area.
  • Two-in-three (67%) respondents were very or fairly confident that the criminal justice system as a whole in Northern Ireland is effective while almost three-in-four (73%) felt it was fair.
  • Just over one-in-five (21%) participants considered organised crime to be very or fairly widespread in their local area with a quarter of respondents (25%) believing the level of organised crime had increased in their area over the previous 12 months.
  • In terms of paramilitary activity, 15% felt it was widespread in their area. Of those who responded it occurred, more than four-in-five (83%) felt there were either strong or some links between paramilitary activity and ongoing organised crime.
  • Of respondents who considered paramilitary groups to have influence in their area, 45% considered it as a ‘negative’ influence, while a further 31% felt the influence was ‘more negative than positive’.


Notes to editors: 

The Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey (NISCS) is a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland. Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the survey began operating on a continuous basis in January 2005. Traditionally conducted as a face-to-face survey, interviews for 2020/21 were conducted via telephone due to the pandemic and the change in survey mode has resulted in a break in the time series. This bulletin therefore focuses on findings from the 2020/21 survey and will be referred to as the Northern Ireland Safe Community Telephone Survey (NISCTS).

The main aims of NISCTS are to:

  • measure crime victimisation rates experienced by people living in private households regardless of whether or not these crimes were reported to, or recorded by, the police.
  • measure people’s perceptions of, and reactions to, crime (for example, the extent to which they are concerned about crime and the effect of crime on their quality of life).
  • measure public confidence in policing and the criminal justice system.
  • measure public perceptions of organised crime.

The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year June 2020 to March 2021, which involved 1,125 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews. This represents an eligible response rate of 15%.

Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access.

The bulletin will be available in PDF format only from either the Statistics and Research section of this website or Analytical Services Group, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG (Telephone: 028 9052 0185;

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via

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