The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistics Bulletins:
• ‘Perceptions of Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland: Findings from the Northern Ireland Life & Times Survey 2017 to 2020’.
• ‘Perceptions of Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland: Findings from the Young Life & Times Survey 2017 to 2020’.
These publications present key findings and compare year on year responses of the views of a representative sample of both adults and young 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 samples and disaggregated by demographics including age, gender, religion, education and political identity. The main findings of these reports are presented below.
Research and Statistical Bulletin: Perceptions of Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland
- Area: Across all years, the highest proportion of adults were found to live in ‘mixed’ religion areas across Northern Ireland (41.5%, 45.7%, 42.6%, 45.4%) and more than half described their area as being neither Loyalist nor Republican. An overwhelming majority of adults (96.4%, 95.9%, 93.3%, 95.8%) felt very or fairly safe living within their area. A slightly lower proportion of young people felt very or fairly safe living within their area (91.8%, 92.2%, 89.9%, 87.9%).
- Sense of Community: Over three fifths of adults (65.7%, 70.5%, 63.7%, 63.5%) strongly agreed or agreed that there is a strong sense of community within their area. However, around three quarters did not feel that they had any influence upon the local decisions made about their area (73.5%, 80.3%, 74.7%, 75.0%). Around half of young people strongly agreed or agreed that there is a strong sense of community within their area (53.9%, 48.2%, 54.2%, 56.8%), but approximately nine out of ten did not feel they had any influence upon local decisions (88.9%, 88.3%, 90.5%, 88.1%).
- Crime and Safety: There has been an overall increase in the number of adults who felt that people within their area were confident in reporting crime and anti-social behaviour to the PSNI between 2017 (56.7%) and 2020 (63.7%). From 2017 to 2019, almost three fifths (56.9%, 59.6%, 59.4%) strongly agreed or agreed that PSNI keeps their area safe, this decreased to 45.1% in 2020. A decreasing number of young people felt that people within their area were confident in reporting crime and anti-social behaviour to the PSNI (54.8%, 47.8%, 48.2%, 42.9%). A decreasing number of young people also felt PSNI keeps their area safe (55.2%, 50.2%, 50.0%, 37.9%).
- Levels of Crime: Around two thirds of adults strongly agreed or agreed that there were low levels of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour in their area (64.2%, 61.8%, 62.0%, 67.4%). A smaller proportion of young people agreed or strongly agreed with this (62.9%, 58.4%, 54.6%, 58.7%).
- The Law and Justice System: More than three quarters of adult respondents agreed or strongly agreed that people within their area generally abide by the law (82.9%, 82.7%, 78.0%, 85.9%). However, a smaller proportion of respondents felt that they were protected by the law and justice system (62.9%, 65.0%, 62.6%, 62.7%). There was a general decrease in the proportion of young people who felt that people within their area generally abide by the law (72.6%, 70.4%, 67.2%, 65.9%). A decreasing number of young people felt that they were protected by the law and justice system from 2017 (65.6%) to 2020 (50.1%).
- Paramilitary Influence: There was a general upward trend in the number of adults who felt paramilitary groups contribute to crime, drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour within their area (22.0%, 18.2%, 25.3%, 26.5%). A decreasing proportion strongly agreed or agreed however that paramilitary groups help keep their area safe (5.4%, 4.8%, 6.4%, 2.9%). A fluctuating number of young people felt paramilitary groups contribute to crime, drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour within their area (18.4%, 24.3%, 24.4%, 17.0%). A relatively consistent proportion of young people strongly agreed or agreed that paramilitary groups help keep their area safe (7.3%, 6.1%, 5.8%, 6.2%).
- Young People and Crime: Across three out of four years, approximately two thirds of adults disagreed or strongly disagreed that there is a lot of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour among young people within their area (65.1%, 66.4%, 60.4%, 66.0%). From 2018 onwards, approximately half of young people disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement (57.3%, 50.1%, 47.7%, 53.9%).
Notes to editors:
1. The NILT and YLT were launched in October 1998 as a resource for everyone interested in the social attitudes of both adults and young people living in Northern Ireland. Set up by Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University and run every year, the surveys aim to put on record the attitudes, values and beliefs of the people in Northern Ireland on a wide range of social policy issues.
2. The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey sample consists 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. The survey sample for the Young Life and Times Survey is taken from the Child Benefit Register, which contains information on all children for whom Child Benefit is claimed, and is provided by HMRC. Further information on sample size, response information and methodology is included within the Technical Annexes of the bulletins.
3. The bulletins will be available in PDF format from either the publication section of this website or
- Analytical Services Group, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG. Email
4. Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via email to email@example.com
5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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