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    • Citizens’ trust in police is increasing, but is still below the world average

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    • Date: 14 September 2017

      Although it has been noticed that the trust in the police is gradually rising in Serbia for the past three years, it is still below the global average of 60 to 90 percent, showed the public opinion survey presented by Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) on September 14, Media Center Belgrade.

      Research conducted within the regional network of civil society organizations POINTPULSE has shown that the attitude of citizens towards the police are similar in the entire Western Balkans.

      "Citizens see male police officers as more prone to corruption and aggressive behavior, and the single most common feature attributed to them by the citizens is arrogance. On the other hand, women in the police force are associated with traits that are not at all tied to police duties, such as beauty or kindness" said BCBP researcher Bojan Elek.

      He added that the public opinion survey of Serbian citizens showed that the traffic police is traditionally perceived as the most corrupt organizational unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and that two thirds of respondents in Serbia believe that corruption is widespread within the police.

      Regional researchhas shown that the situation is similar when it comes to attitudes towards other institutions. Citizens of the Western Balkans regard judiciary, health system, customs and prosecution as the most corrupt, while the police is relatively trusted. The decline in citizens confidence is evident in most of the communities in the region, and the reason is the unsuccessful fight against corruption, BSBP researcher Sofija Mandic stated.

      "The biggest drop in trust towards institutions crucial for combating corruption has been recorded in Bosnia and Herzegovina. If we look at each community individually, 70% of the citizens of Macedonia are ready to report corruption, while on the other end is Serbia, where only 24% of citizens are willing to report it. In all communities, citizens believe that the impact of politics on operational work and employment in the police is high", said Mandic.

      An interesting data point is the fact that, towards the institutions, the perception of corruption exists simultaneously with the perception of trust - one does not negate the other. The conclusion that arises from this information is that citizens in all communities surveyed are accustomed to corruption and that they see it as inevitable, Mandic added.

      One of the conclusions of the research is that it’s necessary to work on increasing the confidence of young people towards the police, because research shows that they least trust this institution. The worrying fact is that the youngest (up to 29 years old) showed the greatest mistrust towards police officers.

      "Spectacular actions such as mass arrests of police officers have a positive impact on public opinion, but they don’t contribute to the fight against corruption. Systematic solutions need to be reached. The chain between the police, the prosecution and the judiciary must function for an effective fight against corruption, concluded the BCSP researcher and the POINTPULSE network coordinator Sasa Djordjevic.

      The survey was conducted in June 2017 on a sample of over 6,000 respondents in Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia, and field research was done by IPSOS Strategic Marketing.

      The presentation is part of the project "Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust (POINTPULSE)". The project is supported by the European Union through the program "Encouraging civil society" for civil society networks within the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The views expressed in the project are exclusively the views of the BCSP and don’t reflect the views of the European Union.

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