SKOPJE — The police are the second most trusted institution in Macedonia, and are rated only after education. More than half of the population show trust in this institution, while almost one-quarter still doesn’t trust the police at all.

Consensus has been reached on two topics by the representatives of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, the international community, and civil society at the presentations of citizens’ perceptions of police in Skopje on 14 of September 2017.

The political crisis in Macedonia had an important impact on the level of trust in institutions. There is a need considerable efforts for police depoliticization. As the survey showed, citizens perceive that politics plays an important role in police work – starting from the employment practices that are considered to depend on the political connections of the candidate, but also on an operational level.

Still, Macedonian citizens have positive perceptions of the police officers among the population, especially regarding female police officers, stated Analytica’s researcher Magdalena Lembovska at the presentations of citizens’ perceptions of police in Skopje on 14 of September 2017.

“This should be taken into consideration by the Ministry of Interior when developing communication strategies for building public trust. Also, the Ministry should work harder to gain the trust of unemployed persons, students and young people in general as the levels of trust were lower among these categories”, recommended Lembovska.

Trust in the police by Albanians has increased and this is a positive trend given that it used to be much lower than the one noted among ethnic Macedonians. Now, there are no significant differences between the different ethnic groups.

“It is especially important that the staff working at the local police station is properly trained in receiving and proceeding with reports on police corruption”, concluded Magdalena Lembovska from Analytica.

Even though public trust in the police is relatively high, there is also a perception of widespread corruption which indicated the high tolerance of corruption within the Macedonian society.

“It is encouraging to see that vast majority (70%) of the citizens are ready to report police corruption (being asked for a bribe) even if they were required to reveal their personal data. Moreover, around half of them would change their mind and report such case if they can do it anonymously”, said Lembovska.

This is why relevant stakeholders should focus on promoting the work of the mechanisms for oversight and control.

“If citizens believe that their complaints will be indeed taken seriously and corrupt police officers will be held responsible for their deeds, they will be better encouraged to report cases of corruption. Moreover, it is especially important that the staff working at the local police station is properly trained in receiving and proceeding with reports on police corruption”, Lembovska concluded.

The survey results showed that going to the local police station is the first choice for reporting police corruption, while the internal control unit which is the one responsible for such cases is not a very popular choice. Still, most of the respondents think that control within the police should be first to fight police corruption. It is also interesting to note that one-quarter of the citizens would report such case to a friend working in the police force, meaning that oftentimes citizens prefer more informal channels and would rather refer to people instead to the institutions.

Amir Kadri, the researcher at Analytica, presented the regional perspective of the survey and compared the results in Macedonia with those in the remaining countries of the Western Balkans.

“The level of trust in Macedonia is a bit lower than the general level of trust in the region; however, Macedonian citizens still maintain a positive perception of the police officers”, said Kadri.

The survey was conducted in June and July 2017 on the representative sample of 6,000 respondents in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, within the regional poll conducted by the POINTPULSE, with the field work conducted by IPSOS Adria.

TAGS: AdvocacyCorruptionExternal OversightMacedoniaPerceptionSkopje