A large-scale public survey to obtain the views of hard-to-reach communities in South Yorkshire has shown a high level of trust and confidence in policing services.

The independent survey commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, sought the views of 4,400 people across Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Designed to seek the views of the diverse and less engaged communities within South Yorkshire, the aim of the survey was to establish levels of trust and confidence amongst communities and gain insight into what effects the levels of confidence communities have in their local police service.

Overall the key findings of the survey demonstrate that the public of South Yorkshire are satisfied with the service they receive from South Yorkshire Police and that they have high levels of trust and confidence in the force. There is recognition that austerity measures have had an effect on the force and the level of policing that can be provided but even against that there is a feeling that the force recognises the issues faced by communities and offers value for money.

Amongst the most positive results were that three quarters of respondents (78 per cent) have trust in South Yorkshire Police, and the same numbers are confident of receiving a good service. Similar numbers (76 per cent) have confidence in the force – this compares to 72 per cent of people nationally having confidence in their local force (British Crime Survey of England and Wales)

Almost nine out of ten (87 per cent) have support for South Yorkshire Police and eight out of ten (82 per cent) believe South Yorkshire Police has integrity.

Those groups with the highest confidence levels were members of the black community and young people (those aged under 35).

Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) think that crime and anti-social behaviour is a ‘big’ or ‘fairly big’ problem in their area. This figure rises to 56 per cent in more deprived areas.  Of all the districts, Doncaster has the highest level of perceived problems relating to crime and anti-social behaviour.

More than one in ten (11 per cent) had been victims of crime in the previous 12 months. Victims identified that the level of follow up that they received after reporting a crime had the most impact on their level of satisfaction of the service they received.

The highest levels of concerns raised were in relation to drugs, gangs and anti-social behaviour.

Media reports and social media discussions have the strongest influence on perceptions of South Yorkshire Police, with social media significantly more likely to influence under 25s. Over 25s are more likely to be influenced by the legacy issues (child sexual exploitation, issues around Hillsborough and Orgreave) influencing the over 35s. These legacy issues are significantly more likely to influence perception of White British and Asian residents

The largest gaps in satisfaction were amongst those who had been victims of crime, which varied by up to 20 per cent. Further work is being undertaken within the OPCC, with support from SYP, to understand the disparity between the views of victims and non-victims to identify which part of the victims’ journey has the most adverse affect on their confidence.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is very pleasing to see that the public has such high levels of trust and confidence in its force and understands the challenges faced by the austerity measures facing public services.

“There are clearly some areas where improvements can be made, in particular around the victim journey and in the legacy areas. However, I am assured that work being undertaken as part of the neighbourhood policing strategy to improve engagement and communication with communities will go a long way to improving perceptions of the force and understanding of the work being done.

“This survey is unique in the sheer size of people surveyed from ‘hard-to-reach’ communities. The sample size of 4,400 people is large in its scale and diversity and provides an excellent sample of views of the public about their police force.”

Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said: “We are grateful to the thousands of South Yorkshire residents who completed the survey, as they play a vital role in helping improve our service.

“It is encouraging to read that public confidence levels among our hard-to-hear communities are very high and this feedback is due praise for our officers, who are dedicated to their vocation and providing excellent public service.

“However, it is clear that there is still work to be done, particularly around victims of crime, who expressed less confidence in the police than people who had not been victims.

South Yorkshire Police is constantly striving to improve and this is reflected in work already undertaken to better understand the needs of victims of crime and the tailoring of staff training methods in response.

“New structures are being implemented to enable staff to deliver excellent victim care and we are confident this will improve the victim journey.”

To read the survey documents click here.