The report provides answers to the following group of questions: trust in 12 anti-corruption institutions, the perception of the police and corruption, citizens’ opinion on the fight against corruption and the work of civil society.
The police force is the second most trusted institution in Macedonia among those selected for this public opinion survey, preceded only by the education system. More than half the population (55%) show trust in the police, but almost one-quarter (23%) still don’t trust it at all. The survey showed a positive perception of police officers among the population, especially when it came to policewomen. 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 were lower in these categories.
Private sector employees exhibit the highest trust in the police, followed by those working in the public sector and the pensioners. The level of trust in the police among the ethnic Albanians has increased in 2017, which a positive trend given that it used to be much lower than that of ethnic Macedonians. Currently, there are no significant differences between these ethnic groups.
The survey showed that citizens believe that politics play an important role in police work – starting with employment practices that are viewed as dependent on the political connections of the candidate, but also on the operational level. Citizens mainly see the police as a means for protection of the interests of political parties or other particular groups. In line with this, most of the citizens perceive a high level of influence of politicians on operative police work. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior needs to make a considerable effort to depoliticise the police and ensure the implementation of professional standards at all levels within this institution.
Even though public trust in the police is relatively high, there is also a perception of widespread corruption which indicates the high tolerance of corruption within the Macedonian society. Still, it is encouraging to see that the vast majority (70%) of the citizens would be willing to report police corruption even if they were required to reveal their personal data. Moreover, around half of them would change their minds and report such a case if they could do so anonymously. In addition, there is a wide consensus that motivating citizens to report corrupt police officers is the most necessary action for preventing corruption. Therefore, the stakeholders should focus on promoting the application of mechanisms for oversight and control. If citizens believed that their complaints would indeed be taken seriously and that corrupt police officers would be held responsible for their deeds, they would be better encouraged to report cases of corruption.
Going to the local police station is the first choice for reporting police corruption, while the internal control unit – which is actually responsible for such cases – Is not a very popular choice. Still, most of the respondents think that control within the police force should be first to fight police corruption. It is also interesting to note that one-quarter of the citizens would report a case of corruption to a friend working in the police force, meaning that citizens often prefer more informal channels and would rather refer to people than institutions. Therefore, all the employees within the Ministry should be trained to handle such situations. Also, it is especially important that the staff working at local police stations is properly trained in receiving and proceeding with reports on police corruption.