A public survey which set out to target ‘hard to reach’ groups which would normally expect limited dialogue with police has revealed high levels of trust and confidence in the way the South Yorkshire force operates.
But it revealed a wide gulf in the confidence crime victims have in policing, compared to those who have not been affected.
More than 4,000 people were surveyed for the report, which was commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, in communities across the county.
Special efforts were made to gather responses from the area’s more diverse communities and those less likely to have much regular contact with bodies like the police.
Results show that even those who have little contact with police have a strong trust in the force and its officers to provide effective policing.
The survey is a comprehensive and detailed document, but shows that 78 per cent of those who answered questions have trust in police and have confidence they will get a good service from the force.
However, 46 per cent believe crime and anti social behaviour are ‘big’ or ‘fairly big’ problems in the areas where they live and that figure jumps to 56 per cent in deprived areas, with Doncaster scoring the most dissatisfaction for perceived crime and anti social behaviour.
The survey also highlighted a gulf in the views of those who have been victims of crime, compared to those who have not, with a gap of up to 20 per cent in satisfaction levels between them.
Work is now being started by the police, in conjunction with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, to establish why crime victims’ confidence has been so badly affected.
From those surveyed, 11 per cent had been the victim of crime in the previous year.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is very pleasing to see that the public has such high levels of trust and confidence in its force and understands the challenges faced by the austerity measures facing public services.
“There are clearly some areas where improvements can be made, in particular around the victim journey and in the legacy areas. However, I am assured that work being undertaken as part of the neighbourhood policing strategy to improve engagement and communication with communities will go a long way to improving perceptions of the force and understanding of the work being done.
“This survey is unique in the sheer size of people surveyed from ‘hard-to-reach’ communities. The sample size of 4,400 people is large in its scale and diversity and provides an excellent sample of views of the public about their police force.”
Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said: ““It is encouraging to read that public confidence levels among our hard-to-hear communities are very high and this feedback is due praise for our officers, who are dedicated to their vocation and providing excellent public service.
“However, it is clear that there is still work to be done, particularly around victims of crime, who expressed less confidence in the police than people who had not been victims.
“South Yorkshire Police is constantly striving to improve and this is reflected in work already undertaken to better understand the needs of victims of crime and the tailoring of staff training methods in response.
“New structures are being implemented to enable staff to deliver excellent victim care and we are confident this will improve the victim journey,” he said.