The POINTPULSE network presented on 14 of September in all capital across the region the results of the third annual public opinion survey on citizens’ opinion of the police.
Citizens in the Western Balkans region share similar attitudes towards the police. More than half of Western Balkan citizens have trust in the police. The level of trust is growing slightly every year. Despite this, more than half of the citizens believe the police to be corrupt. Such a state of affairs suggests that citizens may be interpreted with the fact that corruption is omnipresent in the police, and that they have become accustomed to it as an inevitable segment of its work, and is common to all of the surveyed countries.
Politicization and nepotism are seen as major problems for police operational work.
In Montenegro, Institute Alternative recommends that the current recruitment reform in the police, conducted by the Ministry of Interior, should deal with politicization and nepotism and secure a more widespread discussion on organization and promotion of public vacancy announcements as the main way to get recruited by the police.
Even though the police is the most trusted institution in Albania, and has a 15% approval rating higher than other institutions included in the survey, more than two-thirds of citizens consider that politics influence the operational work of the police. They also consider the minister’s closest associates as the most corrupted part of the police.
Citizens of Serbia see traffic police as the most corrupt part of the police, and about two-thirds of respondents consider corruption as widespread in the police. Even though the trust towards the police in Serbia is slowly and gradually increasing for the past three years, cases of politicization seem to be widespread and noted by the public.
Respondents from Kosovo have the most trust towards not just the police, but other anti-corruption institutions as well. In one year, trust towards the police has increased by 10% – up to almost 70%. Apart from this, political influence on the operational work of the Kosovo Police is still considered high.
The survey conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows a decline of trust of 10 percent on average in all institutions monitored in this poll. The biggest decline was recorded in civil society, police, and municipalities by 12%. The Centre for Security Studies sees the reasons for the fall of trust as a consequence of stalemate on its way to the EU, judiciary and other institutions of legislative power which become problem generators rather than the mechanisms of their resolution.
Macedonian citizens regard 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.
The survey shows that the attitudes in the region are similar when it comes to 12 institutions relevant for anticorruption and selected for this poll. Citizens across the Western Balkans perceive judiciary, healthcare, customs and the prosecution as the most corrupt, while police enjoy relatively high trust.
General conclusions are that it is necessary to work on increasing the trust of the youths towards the police since the data show that they have the least amount of trust in this institution. The worrying fact is that the youngest age group of the respondents (18-29 years old) shows the largest mistrust towards police officers. Also, relevant institutions should conduct a comprehensive campaign to promote reporting of police corruption cases.
Western Balkans citizens believe that civil society is an important player in the fight against corruption but primarily perceives it as a direct player and contributor to this task, not as a partner to state actors. Only smaller percentage of citizens perceive that civil society contributes to research, documentation, and protection of victims of corruption.
This 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.