Perceptions of Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland Published Today

Date published: 13 March 2019

This is the first in a series of bulletins that will provide a snapshot of the views of a representative sample of people in Northern Ireland on their perceptions of and attitudes towards paramilitary influence and activity in Northern Ireland.’ Information is presented in relation to the full sample and disaggregated by demographics including age, gender, religion, education and political identity. The main findings of this report are presented below.

This bulletin provides a snapshot of the views of a representative sample of people in Northern Ireland on their perceptions of and attitudes towards paramilitary influence and activity in Northern Ireland. Information is presented in relation to the full sample and disaggregated by demographics including age, gender, religion, education and political identity.
 

  • Area: Overall 41.5% of respondents were found to live in ‘mixed’ religion areas across Northern Ireland and 52.1% of respondents described their area as being neither Loyalist nor Republican. An overwhelming majority of respondents (96.4%) felt very or fairly safe living within their area.
     
  • Sense of Community: Almost two thirds of respondents (65.7%) strongly agreed or agreed that there is a strong sense of community within their area and 90.7% felt that they had some sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. However, almost three in four respondents did not feel that they had any influence upon the local decisions made about their area (73.5%).
     
  • Crime and Safety: Almost three fifths of respondents (56.7%) felt that people within their area were confident in reporting crime and anti-social behaviour to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). A similar proportion (56.9%) strongly agreed or agreed that PSNI keeps their area safe. Respondents aged 65 and over had the highest levels of confidence in PSNI, alongside those who identified as Protestants and those who were educated to tertiary level. Those residing in Belfast felt least confident in reporting crime and anti-social behaviour to PSNI and were least likely to agree that PSNI keeps their area safe.
     
  • Levels of Crime: Of those who responded, 48.7% stated that they agreed and 15.5% strongly agreed that there were low levels of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour within their area, 13.4% stated that they neither agreed nor disagreed, 15.5% stated that they disagreed and 6.8% strongly disagreed. 
     
  • The Law and Justice System: Overall 82.9% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that people within their area generally abide by the law. However, a smaller proportion of respondents felt that they were protected by the law and justice system (62.9%). More respondents who were Protestant, aged 65 and over, married or in a civil partnership or educated to tertiary level agreed with both of the above statements.
     
  • Paramilitary Influence: A small proportion of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that paramilitary groups ‘create fear and intimidation’ within their area (15.4%), have a controlling influence (14.2%), or help keep their area safe (5.4%). Just over one-fifth strongly agreed or agreed that paramilitary groups contribute to crime, drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour within their area (22.0%). Across all questions, a greater proportion of respondents living in Belfast strongly agreed or agreed that paramilitary groups have some form of influence within their area.
     
  • Young People and Crime: Almost two thirds of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that there is a lot of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour among young people within their area (65.1%) and that young people are influenced too much by paramilitary groups within their area (65.5%). More respondents living in Belfast agreed or strongly agreed that there were high levels of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour among young people and that young people are influenced too much by paramilitary groups within their area.

Notes to editors: 

The NILTS was launched in October 1998 as a resource for everyone interested in the social attitudes of people living in Northern Ireland.  Set up by Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University and run every year, the survey aims to put on record the attitudes, values and beliefs of the people in Northern Ireland on a wide range of social policy issues.

The 2017 Northern Ireland life and Times Survey sample consisted of a systematic random sample of addresses selected from the Postcode Address File (PAF) database of addresses. This is the most up-to-date and complete listing of addresses. Private business addresses were removed from the database prior to sample selection. A total of 2,350 addresses were selected for interview, with 1,203 successful interviews being completed. The person to be interviewed was randomly selected using the ‘next birthday’ rule. Selecting only one individual for interview at each address means individuals living in large households have a lower chance of being included in the sample than individuals living in smaller households. The data presented in this bulletin have been weighted, to prevent a bias towards smaller households.  Further information on this is included within the Technical Annex of the bulletin.

For futher information on this bulletin visit Justice-NI/Statistics & Research website or alternatively contact

Analytical Services Group
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate
Belfast BT4 3SG

Email: statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

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

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