The Citizen’s Opinion of Police Force in Serbia
Publisher: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, Serbia
BCSP Researcher Aurelija Djan summarizes the key findings of a public opinion survey of the police force conducted in Serbia
Slightly more than half of Serbians say that they trust the police, while 3 of 4 citizens believe that corruption in the police is widespread, according to this Belgrade Centre for Security Policy report.
The report examines five groups of questions: (1) the level of citizens’ trust and confidence in institutions; (2) the perception of the police as an institution, but also of policemen and policewomen as individuals; (3) the perception of corruption in the society and the police force; (4) opinions of citizens regarding the fight against corruption; (5) opinions of citizens on the work of civil society organisations.
Citizens are still divided over how much they trust the police. It is true that the level of trust has grown by 2% in 2016 in comparison to 2015: slightly more than half the population (54%) stated that they trust the police, while 44% do not have confidence in this institution. The problem however – just like last year – is in the fact that there is still a high percentage of those who believe that there is corruption in the police force.
The percentage of those who believe that the police is corrupt has increased by 2% in comparison with the previous year, so now a total of 72% of citizens believe that corruption in the police is widespread.
Citizens perceive the police in different ways, depending on their gender: they see policewomen are pretty and policemen as corrupt.The results of this survey show that citizens believe that the impact of politics on operational police work is high and that employment in the police force is usually gained through friends and relatives. Citizens still insufficiently perceive the police as a service to citizens, but it is good that more than a third of them (37%) do – which is an increase from 27% as measured last year.
It has already become a rule for Serbian citizens to think that corruption is most widespread among the representatives of the police force they most frequently come in contact with. This year too, they believe that corruption is most widespread in the traffic and border police. Citizens are not yet ready to report corruption in the police. It is notable that men (37%) are more willing to do so than women (31%) when required to disclose their personal information. The Anti-Corruption Agency still remains the first choice for reporting corruption.
Compared to the previous year, a larger percentage of the population believes that sanctioning the perpetrators should be one of the main measures to combat corruption in the police. The number of people who believe that the political will of the Minister and officials is necessary to solve the problem of corruption in the police has decreased.
One-quarter of the citizens believe that the internal police control should be the main body to fight corruption in the police (24%). A quarter of the respondents see the role of civil society in the direct fight against corruption, as well as in their cooperation with the state.
The research in Serbia was conducted in April 2016 by IPSOS Strategic Marketing on arepresentative sample of 1,000 adult citizens. A questionnaire created by the POINTPULSE network was used as a research instrument and interviews were conducted using the “face to face” technique, which involves direct contact with respondents.
This publication is published within the project “Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust – POINTPULSE,” which is supported by the European Union.