Perceptions of Policing and Justice: Findings from the 2018/19 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey published today

Date published: 15 October 2020

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘Perceptions of Policing and Justice: Findings from the 2018/19 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey’ (NISCS). It is a National Statistics publication.

Graphic for DoJ statistics

The focus of this publication is on key attitudinal modules contained within the Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey relating to:

  • confidence in policing and community engagement; and
  • confidence in the criminal justice system.

Key Findings

  • NISCS 2018/19 findings show that overall public confidence in the police and police accountability arrangements (based on a seven-strand composite measure) remained unchanged from 2017/18 (both 81%). The confidence rating, however, has shown an overall increase from 73% in 2003/04 when the measure was introduced.
  • In terms of the local police, latest findings indicate over half (53%) of respondents rated the police in their area as doing an excellent or good job, remaining on a par with the 2017/18 figure of 51%. The percentage of respondents rating their local police performance as excellent or good has generally shown an upward trend over the last decade or so with the 2018/19 figure of 53% representing an increase of 12 percentage points on the 2007/08 figure of 41%.
  • When asked about overall confidence in the local police, almost-two thirds (65%) of respondents stated that, when taking everything into account, they had confidence in the police in their area, showing no statistically significant change from last year (68%, 2017/18).
  • With regards to community engagement, the proportion of respondents agreeing that the police and other agencies ‘seek people’s views about the anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime issues that matter’ showed a statistically significant decrease between 2017/18 and 2018/19, from 38% to 33%.  The proportion agreeing the police and other agencies are ‘dealing with’ such issues also fell, from 43% to 39%, over the same period.
  • NISCS 2018/19 respondents were more likely to think the criminal justice system (CJS) as a whole is fair (60%) than effective (45%).  These proportions remain on a par with the 2017/18 figures of 60% and 44% respectively.  While confidence in the overall fairness of the CJS has remained relatively stable over the last decade or so, confidence in the effectiveness of the CJS, on the whole, has risen with the figure showing an overall increase from 37% in 2007/08.
  • As in previous years, participants cited ‘tougher sentences’ as one of the most important things the CJS could do to improve its public confidence rating (30%, 2018/19).  Other popular responses included: ‘tackle ASB and minor crime’ (20%); ‘bring more offenders to justice’ and provide ‘a more visible policing presence’ (both 16%).

Notes to editors: 

1. This is the third publication to be drawn from NISCS 2018/19, 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.  It generally mirrors the format of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

2. An alternative, but complementary, measure of crime to offences recorded by the police, the main aims of NISCS 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;
  • monitor trends in the level of crime, independent of changes in reporting levels or police recording practices;
  • measure people’s perceptions of, and reactions to, crime (for example, the level and causes of crime, 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 wider criminal justice system; and
  • collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues, such as domestic violence.

3. The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, which involved 3,429 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 52%.

4. National 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. 

5. For further information or a pdf version of this bulletin visit the Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey section of this website or Analytical Services Group, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG (Telephone: 028 9052 0185; Email:

6. Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via email at

7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top