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September 20th 2017

Civil Liberties

Less than a quarter of people say UK policing makes them feel safe as nine in 10 call for more officers to be employed

Leanne Stephenson

Leanne Stephenson

Solicitor, Civil Liberties

Less than a quarter of people say UK policing makes them feel safe as nine in 10 call for more officers to be employed

Our first-of-its-kind national study to find out the British public's perceptions of the Police has yielded some interesting results which we share below.

Our first-of-its-kind national study to find out the British public’s perceptions of the Police has yielded some interesting results which we share below.

  • Two in five feel officers do a great job – but less than a quarter feel safe
  • 89 per cent of those questioned call for more officers on streets
  • 67% feel police are overworked
  • Legal firm sees 34% rise in civil liberties cases

Less than a quarter of people (22%) who took part in a survey of policing in the UK say they currently feel safe and protected by police officers.

Almost one in five said they either didn’t trust the police or felt officers would not provide protection for them if in danger, with 89 per cent calling for the Government to employ more officers on the streets.

The study was conducted by civil liberties specialists Hudgell Solicitors to explore the nation’s perceptions of policing and the other emergency services, following a 34% increase in civil liberties cases at the firm over the past 12 months.

Although two-in-five people (41%) said they felt police officers do a great job, 67 per cent raised concerns about them being overworked, with four in five (80%) calling for greater financial support for policing from the Government.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given recent large-scale incidents, terrorism (38%) was highlighted as the biggest challenge facing the police forces in the UK today, followed by drugs and alcohol (17%) and serious violence (15%).

Policing in the UK Infographic
Policing in the UK Infographic

Leanne Stephenson, a specialist in handling police misconduct and civil liberties claims at Hudgell Solicitors, said the results of the anonymous study, which was hosted online, suggest increasing concern over the police’s ability to protect the public given limited resources.

“It is certainly not surprising to see people calling for more officers on the streets, something which has long been an issue and will perhaps continue to be something high on the political agenda for some time,” he said.

“The fact that so many people are now saying they feel unsafe, that police officers are overworked and unable to properly protect law-abiding people, is a really strong message.

“Recent events and attacks will of course have impacted on these results, but many clearly now don’t feel safe on the UK’s streets, or don’t feel police will protect them as they should.”

Almost half of those surveyed (43%) said 20,000 more police officers are needed on the streets, with just 11 per cent satisfied with the current number serving.

Furthermore, 89 per cent of respondents agreed that the police need to be more visible in cities across the country, and when asked which political party they feel is most committed to improving policing in the UK, the Labour party was the clear leader with 57 per cent.

Just over half of those questioned (51%) said their perceptions of the police had been influenced by their own experiences, whilst 30% said experiences their family and friends had impacted on their views.

Other influencing factors on views of the police include the portrayal of police by the media (40%), how frequently they patrol neighbourhoods (25%), certain laws that they enforce (e.g. speeding penalties) (21%) and police portrayal in television documentaries and dramas (19%).

People can continue to share their views by completing the study here: https://hudgellv2.staging.wpengine.com/civil-liberties/policing-in-the-uk/

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