Public views of policing in England and Wales 2016/17

Published on: 13 July 2017

Publication types: Data and PEEL methodology

Police Forces: All local forces in England and Wales


In 2015, Ipsos MORI published the results of a survey, commissioned by HMIC, into public perceptions of policing in England and Wales.

In 2016, HMIC commissioned a follow up survey. This report sets out the results of this survey. The results have also been summarised in the infographic below.

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Click on the image below to see a summary of each topic:

Go to Feeing safe

Go to Local policing

Go to Priorities

Go to Contact

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Public views of policing in England and Wales 2016/17 (PDF document)

Main findings

Feeing safe

Around one in four respondents feel crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a big problem and feel unsafe to walk alone at night.

Those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are over twice as likely to feel unsafe than those living in
the most affluent areas, and almost four times as likely to say that crime or ASB is a big problem locally.

70% of respondents did not think that levels of crime or ASB had changed in the last year.

Of those that perceived a change in levels of crime and ASB, almost 3 times as many
(17% v 6%) believe that it is more of a problem than feel it has improved.

Local policing

Just over half of the people surveyed (57%) are satisfied overall with local policing, three times more than are dissatisfied (17%).

Two thirds of respondents perceived no change overall in local policing over the past year.

83% of respondents felt that it was important to have a regular uniformed police presence in the local area.

However, just 18% of respondents felt that there was a regular police presence in their local area.

Priorities and responsibilities

Top priorities:

  • Emergency response
  • Tackling all crime
  • Dealing with terrorism and extremism
  • Local policing

Two thirds of people surveyed identified ‘responding in person to emergencies’ and ‘tackling crime of all types’ as key priorities for the police’s time and resources nationally, followed by ‘countering terrorism and extremism’ and ‘a local on foot uniformed presence’.

Respondents identified priorities for the police as ‘violent crime/crime against the person’ (57%), ‘rape and other sexual offences’ (47%), and ‘terrorism/extremism’ (46%).

Comparatively few prioritised commercial crime (2%), online abuse (4%) and/or fraud (5%).

The majority of respondents consider the police to have the greatest responsibility for:

69% think victims of harassment and stalking 45% think victims of domestic abuse60% think missing people

In contrast, respondents did not believe that police should be responsible for dealing with people with mental health problems.


Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) cited some contact with their local police within the past year.

Regarding potential future contact, people are generally far more likely to say they would report incidents to the police by phone than via online or face-to-face channels.

Over eight in ten respondents say they would use the phone for reporting a crime or incident perpetrated against their person or their property.

For crimes/incidents against the person it is 999 that people are most likely to call. For property-related incidents there is a balance between 999 and 101, while for online incidents, anti-social behaviour and updates on previous incidents then 101 is the most likely.

The results from the public views of policing survey inform HMIC inspections. More information about the methodology is available on our website

Get the full report

Public views of policing in England and Wales 2016/17 (PDF document)

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