Perceptions of the PPS - Findings from the NI Life and Times Survey October - December 2021

Date: 
26 May 2022
Type: 
Statistical reports

This report provides results from the 2021 NILT Survey, conducted between October and December 2021. As this is the fourth year the PPS has commissioned a module in the Survey, comparisons with 2018, 2019 and 2020 findings are included.

The Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) Survey was launched by the University of Ulster and Queen’s University of Belfast in the autumn of 1998. Its mission is to monitor the attitudes and behaviour of people in Northern Ireland annually to provide a time-series and a public record of how attitudes and behaviour develop on a wide range of social policy issues. The survey is run on a modular format and aims to provide a local resource for use by the general public and a data source for public and academic debate.

A total of four questions specific to the PPS were included to gauge the following:

  • Public awareness of the PPS (Question 1);
  • Public perceptions of the PPS’s effectiveness in prosecuting people accused of committing a crime (Question 2);
  • Public perceptions of the PPS’s fairness and impartiality (Question 3); and
  • Public perceptions of the PPS’s independence (Question 4).

Question 1 was asked of all respondents. Questions 2, 3 and 4 relate only to those respondents who had heard of the PPS (i.e. respondents who had answered ‘yes’ at (Question 1).

Analysis of each of the PPS questions is available across ten key variables, as follows: Age-group, gender, religion, partnership status, limiting health condition/disability status, dependant status, employment status, qualification level, socio-economic classification and PPS Region. For the purposes of this report, the analysis has been limited to age, gender and religion. However, data in respect of any of the remaining variables can be provided on request.

It should be noted that the 2021 NILT Survey has produced a relatively high proportion of people who answered ‘don’t know’ in response to the questions. These ‘don’t knows’ have been excluded from the main body of the report. As such, the focus of the bulletin is on those people who have offered an opinion regarding the PPS. However, in the interests of transparency, the full results (including the ‘don’t know’ responses) have been set out in the second part of the bulletin and are available to download below.

Key Findings

Q1 Had you heard of the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland, ‘the PPS’? (Yes, No)

Of the respondents that were surveyed, 87.2% had heard of the PPS.

The age group 45-64 contained the largest proportion of respondents answering ‘yes’ to this question (96.6%) with those aged under 25 containing the lowest proportion (62.9%).

A greater proportion of male respondents (90.3%) than female respondents (84.0%) had heard of the PPS.

A smaller proportion of Catholic respondents (86.0%) than Protestant respondents (91.3%) had heard of the PPS.

Q2 How confident are you that the Public Prosecution Service is effective at prosecuting people accused of committing a crime? (Very Confident, Fairly Confident, Not Very Confident, Not At All Confident)

Just over half (52.5%) of all respondents were either very or fairly confident that the PPS is effective at prosecuting people accused of committing a crime.  This compares with 47.5% who stated that they were either not very or not at all confident.

Respondents aged 65+ showed most confidence in the PPS’s effectiveness at prosecuting with 61.1% stating that they were either very or fairly confident.

Similar proportions of male and female respondents (53.3% and 51.9% respectively) felt either very or fairly confident in the PPS’s effectiveness at prosecuting.

Similar proportions of Protestant (53.8%) and Catholic (52.0%) respondents were either very or fairly confident in the PPS’s effectiveness at prosecuting.

Q3 How confident are you that the Public Prosecution Service provides a fair and impartial prosecution service?

Around three fifths (60.7%) of all respondents were either very or fairly confident that the PPS provides a fair and impartial prosecution service, while 39.3% were either not very or not at all confident.

Respondents aged 65+ showed most confidence in the PPS’s fairness and impartiality with 69.6% stating that they were either very or fairly confident.

Similar proportions of male and female respondents (61.7% and 60.1% respectively) were either very or fairly confident in the PPS’s fairness and impartiality.

More than three fifths of Protestant respondents (63.5%) felt very or fairly confident in the PPS’s fairness and impartiality. The proportion of Catholic respondents who were very or fairly confident was 57.9%.

Q4 How confident are you that the Public Prosecution Service takes its prosecution decisions independently? (that is, independent of police, Government or any other body).

Just under three fifths (58.7%) of all respondents were either very or fairly confident that the PPS takes its prosecution decisions independently, while 41.4% were either not very or not at all confident.

Respondents aged 65+ showed most confidence in the PPS’s independent decision taking with 69.7% of those surveyed stating that they were either very or fairly confident.

Similar proportions of male and female respondents (58.6% and 59.1% respectively) were either very or fairly confident in the independence of the PPS’s decision taking.

A greater proportion of Protestant respondents (63.7%) than Catholic respondents (55.6%) stated they were very or fairly confident in the independence of the PPS’s decision taking.

Official Statistics

The statistics within this report are ‘Official Statistics’ as defined in Section 6 of the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007. Statisticians from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency are seconded to the PPS and are responsible for ensuring that the statistics produced comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Copyright

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