BELGRADE – The trust towards the police in Serbia is gradually increasing by 2% for the past three years, but it is below world average that is 60-90%.

The first impressions of regular police officers who are in contact with the citizens on a daily basis are crudeness and/or arrogance. The second most frequent trait is corruptness (8%), and finally there are courage and boldness (5%), stated the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) researcher Bojan Elek at the presentation of citizens’ perceptions of police in Belgrade on 14 of September 2017.

“Citizens see male police officers as more prone to corruption or aggression, and individually most common feature ascribed to them is arrogance. On the other hand, female police officers are associated with traits that have nothing to do with policing, such as beauty or kindness”, Elek pointed out.

Elek added that citizens traditionally see traffic police as the most corrupt organizational unit within Ministry of Interior and that two-thirds of respondents consider corruption as widespread in the police.

“Female police officers are associated with traits that have nothing to do with policing”, highlighted Bojan Elek from the BCSP.

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. The largest decrease of trust is noted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Sofija Mandić, the BCSP’s researcher.

“Macedonian citizens are most willing to report a corruption case, while on the other side is Serbia, where only 24% are prepared to do it. Citizens in the region agreed that political influence on police operational work and employment policies is substantial”, Mandić pointed out.

Perception of corruption coexists with the perception of trust – they don’t negate each other. The conclusion that imposes is from this information is that the citizens in the Western Balkans are used to the corruption, i.e. that they perceive it as inevitable, Mandić added.

“Perception of corruption coexists with the perception of trust – they don’t negate each other, and this is a problem”, stated Sofija Mandić from BCSP.

In the future, 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, highlighted the coordinator of the POINTPULSE and the BCSP’s researcher Saša Djordjević.

“Spectacular actions of mass arrests have a positive impact on the public, but they do not contribute towards the fight against corruption. Systemic solutions are necessary, while the chain between the police, prosecutors, and judiciary have to function in order to effective suppression of corruption”, concluded Djordjević.

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: AdvocacyBelgradeCivil SocietyCorruptionExternal OversightPerceptionSerbia