Britons lack confidence in police ability to solve crime

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
February 17, 2020, 10:37 AM GMT+0

New YouGov data shows low levels of confidence in police and the justice system among the British public

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – the police watchdog – has released new figures showing that only 7.8% of crimes in England and Wales resulted in a suspect being charged, down from 9.1% the previous year.

HMIC chief Matt Parr said public expectations are so low that people are giving up on reporting some crimes – like car break-ins – as the chances of a positive result are so slim.

Now a new YouGov survey reveals how quite low public expectations are.

Just one in five (22%) say they are “very” or “fairly” confident that the police would find and arrest a person who had burgled their home. Similarly low numbers of people believe that if they were the victim of mugging (24%) or identity theft (24%) that an arrest would be made.

Of the 12 crimes we asked about, vandalism came bottom, with a mere 12% confident that the police would catch the culprit.

In only two cases were most Britons confident that the police would get their man: attempted murder (74%) and domestic violence (56%).

This means that fewer than half of Brits are confident that the police would catch their assaulters (48%), rapists (46%) or stalkers (33%).

Expectations that offenders would face justice are also low

Of course, arresting the suspect is only half the story – not until they have been found guilty has the process been completed.

Britons are similarly sceptical of the justice system. The most notable difference between the two sets of results is that the public are even less likely to think that crimes most typically experienced by women would result in a conviction.

For instance, while 56% of Brits are confidence an arrest would be made in the case of domestic violence, this figure falls to 40% for conviction.

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Likewise, the 35% of Brits who expect that someone who had sexually assaulted them is eleven points lower than the 46% who believe they would have been arrested.

These figures are also noticeably lower when it comes to stalking, sexual harassment and rape, as well as harassment and attempted murder.

Gender attitudes are mixed. On sexual assault and sexual harassment women are noticeably less confident than men, but on crimes like domestic violence and rape the differences are so small as to be within the margin of error.

Leave voters in particular distrust the justice system

At first glance these figures would appear to run counter to the high levels of trust expressed in the institutions themselves. However, while three quarters of Britons (77%) say they trust the police, and 58% trust the justice system, very few have a lot of faith in these institutions.

Only 22% of Brits say they trust the police “a great deal” – a figure which falls to 9% for the justice system.

Overall 19% of Brits distrust the police (including 5% who distrust them a great deal) and 38% are suspicious of the justice system (including 12% who distrust it a great deal).

In both cases, distrust is higher among men than women. When it comes to the justice system specifically, distrust is far higher among Leave voters (47%) than Remain voters (27%).

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