Police survey leaves us not much wiser

Buried at the bottom of this article in the DomPo today about how much the inquiries into the rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas cost is this:

A survey into public satisfaction with the police, published yesterday, shows that, of more than 4000 people who had contact with police in the past six months, 80 per cent were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received.Eighty-nine per cent agreed or strongly agreed that police staff were competent and 88 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they were treated fairly.The independent survey was commissioned by police and will be held annually.

Scoop carried the Police press release yesterday, but I’m not any wiser after reading it about the things I’m most interested in, which I’ve highlighted above.  Who did the Police ask how satisfactory their response had been? 

Clearly, they have only asked people who have some involvement with them – so people who are not calling the Police are invisible in this survey.  We’re not able to ask or answer any questions about why people might not be calling the Police – because, say they are new to New Zealand and do not yet know their rights/do not trust the Police/have had negative experiences in the past/do not feel safe in making a complaint because of repercussions which they do not believe they will be safe from – are just some possibilities.

Yesterday the DomPo reported that many dairy owners were not reporting attacks to the Police because they feared reprisals.  And according to the difference between Police records and the National Crime survey, just 15% of the rapes and domestic violence experienced by women were reported to the Police in 2001.

But secondly, I don’t know who the people who had contact with the Police are – victims, offenders, witnesses – or how they were selected.  Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls says in the press release:

It is especially significant that often we have contact with people during stressful periods, some of them are being given infringements or are being dealt with as offenders, these are difficult situations in which to ensure someone has a positive experience, yet obviously many people end up being satisfied with the encounter and feel that they were treated fairly.

Which suggests some at least were offenders – but there is no breakdown about how many of the 4000 people were in each category.  And no information about whether a range of crimes were included, which could also be relevant.

Thirdly, we have no information about the demographics of those surveyed.  Do they fairly represent New Zealand’s ethnic make-up?  Do they represent different age-groups, men and women, city and rural dwellers?  If so, do different groups have different levels of satisfaction with the Police, or not?

I welcome the Police surveying the public about their performance – but the public information about this survey so far leaves us not much wiser.  Watch this space, I’m going to try to find out the answers to some of these questions.

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