Public want police to prioritise sexual offences, Ipsos poll reveals

Around a quarter would speak highly of their local police force while just over half say they are trustworthy

The author(s)

  • Hannah Shrimpton Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
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  • Six in ten Britons (61%) believe the police should prioritise sexual offences 
  • Only 1 in 4 would speak highly of their local police
  • 58% of white people think the police are trustworthy compared to 43% of ethnic minorities 

The British public are most likely to say police forces should prioritise sexual offences, new polling from Ipsos has revealed.

Six out of ten (61%) Britons say the police should prioritise rape and other sexual offences, compared to violent crime (50%), serious and organised crime (40%) and terrorism (40%). Yet only three in ten (29%) say the police are effective at preventing violence against women and less than half (47%) believe they take it seriously. Women have less confidence than men, with only two in five (42%) believing the police take violence against women and girls seriously in Britain, compared to half (52%) of men. 

The poll of more than 4,700 people suggests concern about the effectiveness of the police, with only one in four (25%) speaking highly of their local force. Only one in three (34%) believe that the police treat all people with respect, although more than half (56%) say the police are trustworthy.

Concern about policing is highest in London, where Met Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned earlier this year and is yet to be replaced. Just one in five people in London (20%) speak highly of their local police, compared to 3 in 10 (31%) in Scotland, 28% in the South West and 27% in the South East. 

Only half of Londoners (48%) are confident they would be treated fairly if they encountered the police, compared to almost three in five (59%) nationally. More people in London (25%) think that the police are sexist compared to the rest of the UK (15%).

The poll also reveals the difference in attitudes towards the police amongst ethnic minorities compared to white people. One in three (32%) people from ethnic minorities believe the police are racist, compared to just 11% of white people. Fewer than two in five (37%) people from ethnic minorities believe that they will be treated fairly by the police, compared to more than three out of five (62%) of white people. Just over two in five of (43%) people from ethnic minorities think the police are trustworthy compared to 58% of white people.

However, two in five (41%) people from ethnic minorities think the police are effective at reducing crime compared to (35%) of white people.

Hannah Shrimpton, Associate Director at Ipsos, said: 

Rape and sexual offences are the crime type that most Britons want to see police prioritising, yet there are concerns around the effectiveness of police response to violence against women and girls and a lack of confidence that the police take it seriously – particularly among women.  Although overall the public are more positive than negative about their local police force – there are differences regionally. In the run-up to Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation, Londoners were less positive towards the Met and are less likely to describe their local police as trustworthy or competent and more likely to label them sexist and racist compared to the rest of Britain.

Note to Editors:

  • This study was conducted on Ipsos's UK random probability online panel (KnowledgePanel) between 3-9 March 2022.  In total, 4,709 British adults aged 16+ were interviewed. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Hannah Shrimpton Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research

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