PODGORICA—The highest trust in the police is in Kosovo and the least in Albania. The perception of police corruption is growing – the highest in Serbia, and the lowest in Kosovo. Montenegro is in between.

The aim of the research is to get the citizens’ voice and point out what are their needs when it comes to the police, the POINTPULSE network and Institute Alternative explained at the press conference “What do citizens think of the police – is it serving the citizens or someone else”, on November 6, 2018, in Podgorica.

The relation between citizens and police is two-way and it is mutually dependent, explained public policy researcher Dina Bajramspahić from the Institute Alternative.

“This means that citizens depend on the police when it comes to their security and safety, but on the other side, police depends on the citizens when it comes to resolving cases and collecting data. Because, if there is no such trust, the citizens would be those who did not see anything, did not hear anything, which would prevent the police from doing their job”, concluded Bajramspahić.

Not steady trust in police and a feeling of safety throughout the region

There is a slow growth of trust in police service in Montenegro, as well as in Serbia, said Aleksandra Vavić from Institute Alternative who presented the main research findings at the press conference.

“There has been a high growth of trust in police in Kosovo from 56 to 80 percent this year. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, confidence is oscillating a lot from year to year, while in Macedonia and Albania is a significant drop in trust in the police”, explained Vavić.

There is an increase in trust in education and in healthcare systems in Montenegro. In Albania and Macedonia, there is a significant drop in trust in the police, education system, local authorities, and media.

“In Montenegro, the police is on the third and healthcare is on the second place, when measuring the trust of the citizens. In general, when we look at the region, the lowest level of trust of the citizens has anti-corruption bodies, commercial inspectorates, and Parliaments in the region”, said Vavić.

For the first time, the survey measured the perception of the safety of the citizens.

“The citizens of Montenegro and Serbia feel safe to a higher extent than citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia, while the citizens of Albania standout – 45% of them do not feel safe. From 20 to 30 percent of citizens in each state could not clearly answer this question and they said that they feel neither unsafe nor safe’”, clarified Vavić.

The citizens in the Western Balkans dominantly believe the most in themselves to protect their safety.

“42% of the citizens in Serbia thinks this way, 43% in Montenegro, 41% in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 48% in Kosovo, 67% in Albania and 41% in Macedonia. About 20% of citizens believe that the police is the one to protect them, while less than ten percent of citizens in the region believe that the army is the institution that will protect them”, explained Vavić.

“The number of the citizens who said that they do not trust anyone is not negligible, and that percentage ranges from ten percent in Montenegro, to the highest in Macedonia – 24 percent”, said Aleksandra Vavić from the Institute Alternative.

Citizens in Kosovo are affirmative on police

The survey showed that the citizens of Kosovo have a positive attitude towards the work of the police – close to 80 percent are generally satisfied with the work of their police.

“On the other hand, about 50 percent of citizens in Albania and Macedonia are either not satisfied at all or mostly dissatisfied with the work of the police. In Montenegro, 14% are not satisfied at all, 19% are mostly dissatisfied, and 46% are mostly satisfied”, pointed out Vavić.

Less than 50% of citizens in the Western Balkans consider that the police works as a service of the citizens.

“Every fourth person in Montenegro (25%) believes that politicians have a full influence on the operating work of the police. There have been no significant changes compared to the previous year. Last year, about 25% of Albanian citizens thought that politics had a full impact on the police, while this year the percentage raised to half of the population”, said Vavić.

Almost half of Kosovo’s citizens think that police works in the interests of the citizens, followed by Montenegro with 41%, Serbia with 37%, Albania with 35%, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with 26%.

“We have an interesting trend in Montenegro – although the number of those who think that the police mostly protects the Government is decreased, the number of those who think that police mostly works in the interests of the highest police officials has increased”, said Vavić.

High perception of police corruption in the Western Balkans

Over half of the citizens in the Western Balkans believe that corruption in the police exists

“Although the number of the citizens in Montenegro who believe that corruption is very and most widespread has decreased, over 50% of citizens thinks that corruption exists”, said Vavić.

Speaking about the perception of corruption in other institutions, Vavić said that citizens believe that corruption is the highest in judiciary and healthcare, while the civil society organizations are in the last place.

“At least 50% of the citizens think that corruption is damaging the work of the police. The perception of the citizens of Albania is the worst, with 73% of those who think it is very damaging, while in Montenegro we have 13% of citizens who think that it is not damaging at all”, said Vavić.

She explained that citizens, who think that corruption is widespread in police, says that, in their opinion, the most corruption is present in border and traffic police, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Macedonia citizens think that is widespread in criminalistics police and Minister’s closest associates.

Not too optimistic while evaluating the fight against corruption

The citizens of Montenegro and Serbia think similarly and the third of them think that the state does not fight against corruption

“Half of them think that it is fighting, but not in the right way, while a less than a fifth believe that the state does not fight against this phenomenon at all”, said Vavić.

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is worse since about half of the citizens believe that state does not fight corruption at all, ‘and only 5% are those who believe that the state is fighting successfully against this phenomenon.

Citizens across the region believe that, for a better fight against corruption in police, it is necessary to implement stricter penalties for offenders and stricter penalties for corrupt police force managers, while in the third place there is a proposal to increase police officer’s salaries.

Anti-corruption agencies are seen as the most responsible institution for the fight against corruption in Montenegro; in Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina it is internal police control, while in Albania and Kosovo the citizens believe this is supposed to be Government’s duty.

“More than 70% of Kosovo citizens believe that the fight against corruption will be much better in next five years, in Serbia and Montenegro about 40% of citizens think it will be better, while in Albania this opinion is shared by about half the citizens’’, said Vavić.

Citizens in the Western Balkans still think that a public competition is not the dominant way of getting a job in the police service.

“In Montenegro, 44% think that the candidates for police are selected through the public competition; 40% believe that it is necessary to pull friends and family strings in order to get a job in the police; 26% consider that through political connections one can get a job; 13% thinks that a bribery is needed”, said Vavić.

“Field research in Montenegro was conducted in September 2018 on a sample of 1,013 citizens”, explained Dina Bajramspahić from the Institute Alternative.

Dina Bajramspahić at the end of the press conference reminded that Institute Alternative in cooperation with six other civil society organizations from the region is implementing public opinion survey with the support of the European Union.

“Field research in Montenegro was conducted in September 2018 on a sample of 1,013 citizens by the IPSOS Strategic Marketing. The POINTPULSE network created questionnaire used as a research instrument in the survey. “Face to face” interview technique was conducted in the field work“, explained Bajramspahić.

TAGS: AdvocacyCorruptionExternal OversightMontenegroPerceptionPodgoricaWestern Balkans