Perceptions of Policing and Justice: Findings from the 2019/20 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey’ published today.

Date published: 25 June 2021

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘Perceptions of Policing and Justice: Findings from the 2019/20 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey’ (NISCS; formerly known as the Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS).

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A National Statistics publication, the bulletin focuses on key attitudinal modules contained within the NISCS relating to:

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

Key Findings

  • NISCS 2019/20 findings show that, at 80%, overall public confidence in the police and police accountability arrangements (based on a seven-strand composite measure) remained unchanged from 2018/19 (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 49% of respondents rated the police in their area as doing an excellent or good job, a statistically significant decrease from the 2018/19 figure of 53%. The percentage of respondents rating their local police performance as excellent or good had generally been showing an upward trend over the last decade or so; the 2019/20 figure of 49% represents an overall increase on the 2007/08 figure of 41%.
  • When asked about overall confidence in the local police, 62% of respondents stated that, when taking everything into account, they had confidence in the police in their area, a statistically significant decrease from last year (65%, 2018/19). 
  • With regards to community engagement, the proportions of respondents agreeing that the police and other agencies ‘seek people’s views about the anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime issues that matter’ (31%) and are ‘dealing with’ (37%) such issues remained on a par with the previous year showing no statistically significant change between 2018/19 and 2019/20 (33% and 39% respectively). 
  • NISCS 2019/20 respondents were more likely to think the criminal justice system (CJS) as a whole is fair (57%) than effective (40%).  While the proportion agreeing that the CJS as a whole is fair showed no statistically significant change from 2018/19 (60%), the proportion confident that the CJS as a whole is effective showed a statistically significant decrease from 45% over the same period. 
  • 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 (29%, 2019/20).  Other popular responses included: ‘tackle ASB and minor crime’ (23%); and provide ‘a more visible policing presence’ (19%).

Notes to editors: 

1.  This is the third publication to be drawn from NISCS 2019/20, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland. The survey was previously known as the Northern Ireland Crime Survey but has been renamed from 2018/19 onwards following a review in 2017/18. 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 2019 to 31 March 2020, which involved 3,710 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 56%.

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.  This bulletin will be available in PDF format only from the Statistics and Research section of this website or by contacting 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 to

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