BELGRADE—Trust in the police in Serbia is increasing. Still, more citizens think that the police are corrupt and under the influence of politicians.

Confidence in the police in Serbia is growing, as well as the perception of corruption and the impression that the work of the police has been politicized, it was shown in the public opinion survey results presented by the POINTPULSE network and Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) on November 6, 2018, in Belgrade.

According to the research, six out of ten citizens in Serbia trust the police, which is in the world average of between 60 and 90 percent.

At the same time, seven out of ten respondents believe that the police are corrupt, while for three-quarters of citizens it is subordinated to political interests.

The research finds out that the public perceives that there are high politicization and corruption in the police, but that it does not affect trust in the police. It can be concluded that citizens have become accustomed to corruption everywhere, or that they do not think that the level of trust should be linked to corruption and the impact of politics on the operational work of the police.

It was also shown that part of the population experiences the police as a service of citizens, while twice as many interviewees believe that the police are acting in that capacity the least.

For the past three years, a third of respondents have stated that the police are a service of citizens, but this year there was a slight increase of citizens who believe that the police protect the interests of the government and political parties the most, which every fourth respondent considers. At the same time, six out of ten interviewees think that the police work in the service of citizens the least.

The results of the research have shown that the picture of deep corruption persists in Serbia. For only three out of 12 institutions offered the perception of corruption is below 50 percent, while health services, police, judiciary, and the media are at the top of the scale when it comes to the perception of corruption.

“Corruption is seen as a harmful phenomenon which has a negative impact on security and the work of the police by most citizens of Serbia, and in some way it becomes a normal phenomenon, with the rule that the system requires corrupt behaviour. It is a syndrome that exists in most of the countries that are in transition,” said the BCSP researcher Saša Đorđević.

The research also showed that the citizens of central Serbia have more confidence in the police and more trust in the fact that the police will protect them, so they feel safer than respondents from Belgrade and Vojvodina.

The traffic police are seen as the most corrupt part of the police force for the fourth consecutive year – three out of four respondents believe that traffic police officers are corrupt.

In the last four years, there is a trend of increasing numbers of those who perceive corruption in the traffic and criminal police, as well as the trend of a reduced amount of interviewees that perceive corruption in the border police, administrative affairs and special units.

Although citizens still do not see the tangible results of the fight against corruption in the police, they are slightly optimistic. Every other respondent believes that the state is fighting corruption in the police.

A third of interviewees believe that the state will be more successful in fighting corruption in the future, and they think that the solution is strict punishment for corruption and the establishment of the leadership of internal control in the police.

The data in Serbia was gathered by IPSOS Strategic Marketing in August 2018 on a sample of 1.008 adult citizens and results were interpreted by the BCSP. A questionnaire created by the POINTPULSE network was used as a research instrument and interviews were conducted using the “face to face” technique, which involves direct contact with respondents.

This is the fourth round of public opinion surveys conducted by the POINTPULSE network in order to examine citizens’ views on security, police, and corruption. The research was carried out in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo.

Photo: Media Centre Belgrade / Author: Beta News Agency / Translation: Miloš Jovanović (BCSP intern)

TAGS: AdvocacyBelgradeCivil SocietyCorruptionExternal OversightPerceptionSerbia