Perceptions of Organised Crime and Human Trafficking: Findings from the October 2016 Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey’ published today

Date published: 16 March 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 9/2017 ‘Perceptions of Organised Crime and Human Trafficking: Findings from the October 2016 Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey’. This is an Official Statistics Publication.

These findings provide baseline information in relation to perceptions of Organised Crime and Human Trafficking in Northern Ireland.

Key Findings

Organised Crime and Paramilitarism

  • A fifth of respondents (20.1%) stated that they felt that organised crime was very widespread throughout Northern Ireland, 24.8% stated that it was widespread, 45.2% stated that it was fairly widespread, 9.7% thought it was not widespread and 0.1% stated that organised crime does not occur in Northern Ireland.
  • 91.5% of respondents stated that drug dealing was one of the main types of crimes they associated with organised crime in Northern Ireland.
  • Overall, 49.6% strongly agreed and 42.1% agreed that the proceeds of any one form of organised crime may ultimately contribute towards other forms of organised crime.
  • Of all respondents asked, 83.2% stated that ‘Yes’ they believed there was a link between organised crime and ongoing paramilitary activity.
  • 89.2% stated ‘Violence’ was a type of harm associated with organised crime
  • When respondents were asked their perceptions of the impact of organised crime, personally and within the community, 47.8% stated ‘fear in the community’.
  • 97.8% of respondents stated that the ‘PSNI’ had a role in tackling organised crime.  When asked about the role that the public can play in tackling organised crime, 73.9% stated that they can ‘report to the police’, 55.3% stated ‘contact Crimestoppers’ and 48.8% stated that they could ‘refuse to purchase counterfeit or illicit goods or services’.
  • 60.0% stated ‘fear’ prevented people from reporting an incident or suspected incident.

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

  • Overall, 5.6% of respondents stated that they felt that human trafficking and modern slavery was very widespread throughout Northern Ireland, 14.6% that it was widespread and 39.7% fairly widespread, 35.5% not widespread and 4.6% that it did not occur.
  • 84.6% of respondents stated ‘sexual exploitation’, 71.7% stated ‘forced labour’ and 60.6% stated ‘forced begging’ were types of exploitation occurring in Northern Ireland.
  • Just over a quarter (26.8%) stated that they would recognise signs of human trafficking and modern slavery.






Notes to editors: 

Section A of the Fresh Start Agreement (2015) sets out a number of commitments to tackle paramilitarism, criminality and organised crime, in response to which the Executive established an independent Three Person Panel to provide recommendations for the disbandment of paramilitary groups. The Executive published its action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime in July 2016.

The Department of Justice is leading on the implementation and co-ordination of the Executive action plan. Included within this is a commitment to develop a public awareness campaign, entitled ‘End the Harm’, which was launched on December 5th 2016. The aim of this campaign is:

  • To highlight the harm caused by organised crime and paramilitarism;
  • To raise awareness of types of organised crime and its links to paramilitarism (where applicable);
  • To engage the public in their own role in tackling organised crime and promote a sense of personal responsibility to feed into support for the police and justice agencies and promote a “culture of lawfulness”

In order to assess the impact of this programme of work, and the awareness campaign, public attitudes towards such behaviours have been gathered via the October 2016 Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey and are presented in this bulletin. The survey also provided an opportunity to baseline public awareness of and attitudes to modern slavery and human trafficking

The information presented in this bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken in October and November 2016, which involved 886 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 46%.  Responses to this survey were collected prior to the campaign launch and will act as a baseline.  It is planned to rerun this survey in October 2017 in an attempt to assess if and how attitudes have changed.

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

View the bulletin here or alternatively contact  Analytical Services Group, Department of Justice,1st Floor, Laganside House, 23-27 Oxford Street, Belfast, BT1 3LA (Telephone: 028 90724538; Email:

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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