Today I stumbled over an interesting report by The Committee on Standards in Public Life. This report, consisting of data from 1968 interviews with a wide ranging cross section of the public, is designed to show how much trust is given to various occupations in the public eye.
This natty little graph shows a nice trend here since 1999. That the Police are consistently found to be trustworthy by around 60% of the public. That’s worth repeating. Since 1999 60% of the public trust the police, and that it’s held steady. If we look at the lower end of the chart we find journalism – however I’ll come to that later. What we find in the mid 40% range is business leaders. This means the British public trusts those who hold senior business positions consistently less than those who hold senior police positions. This means that should direct entry for senior ranks happen then the police will be forced to use people who the public trust less than the current senior staff, how this will improve policing I’m not too sure.
It is interesting to note that only 18% of the public trust journalists as a whole. That’s a full 40 percentage points less than the amount of the public who trust the police, worth bearing in mind the next time a journalist implores greater transparency or other measures to increase trust in the police.
While impressive that the vast majority of the public trust the police there is obviously room for improvement and is an area for further study. Of particular note is that Norway and Germany have consistently higher public trust in their police than the UK (as shown in the graph below). Our government should be looking to those police systems to see why the public trust them so much so that those systems can be introduced, assuming they fit within UK legal frameworks.
There is considerably more work that’s needed to be done by Westminster MPs to increase their trust, especially in comparison with other European countries.
With only 30% of the public trusting Parliament as a whole and even fewer (20%) trusting politicians it appears that Westminster needs to be utterly reformed in order to gain the wholesale public trust. It is worrying that both parliament and politicians are on a downward trend on public trust. In this instance HM Government should be reviewing the systems in Norway and the Netherlands to see how the public trust is so high.
The study also shows that the police are held to account more than any other organisation measured, and that the police consistently put the interests of the public above their own.
What is worrying is that only 20% of the public think that politicians tell the truth, that 18% of the public think that politicians ensure that public money is is spent wisely and only 11% of the public think that politicians own up when they make mistakes.
This study clearly shows that the public consistently trust the police, regardless of what the media may be telling us especially as it has been shown that the amount of the public that trust tabloid journalists is 14%. It will be interesting to see what measures the tabloids will want to be put in place to increase their levels of trust but I wont be holding my breath that they will want to implement any at all.