Just over 40 per cent of Fifers don’t have much confidence the police will respond to their concerns.
More than half were unaware a local policing team existed in their area – and even more didn’t know how to go about contacting them.
The results came in an online survey conducted by Police Scotland.
‘Your View Counts’ gave the public a chance to comment on the priorities for their areas, as well as highlighting the issues of most concern, both locally and nationally.
And the snapshot gave senior officers food for thought.
Asked to rate the level of confidence they had in police responding to their concerns, 23 per cent said ‘low’ and a further 17 per cent said ‘very low’.
In contrast only 28 per cent had high or very high expectations.
The traditional sight of an officer on the beat remains important to Fifers. Just over 60 per cent said they felt re-assured or safe when they saw police in their area.
Some 44 per cent of Fifers felt crime levels had “remained the same” while 21 per cent felt they had risen slightly. Less than 15 per cent felt they’d gone down.
And when it came to alerting officers to a crime or incident, the clear majority still wanted to pick up the phone or go direct to an officer. Social media was signficantly down the list of choices.
Commenting on the public’s limited confidence in a response from the police, Chief Supt Angela McLaren, Fife’s Divisional Commander, said: “Public confidence is vitally important to policing and the ‘Your View Counts’ survey is one of a number of methods we use to gauge this.
“I’d encourage people to keep telling us their concerns. You can do so in a number of ways, which include visiting our website and completing the survey, attending a local community engagement meeting, emailing your Community Policing Team or calling 101.”
Interestingly, the survey revealed that half of the respondents didn’t know they had a local policing team for their area – and some 63 per cent were unaware how to go about contacting them.
When asked what information Fifers accessed from Police Scotland, the vast majority replied … none!
They were given a list that included safety advice, local policing plans, and crime prevention tips, but 316 people opted for ‘none’ – three times more than any other listed topic.
When it came to local concerns on crime, anti-social behaviour and disorder topped the list.
It was the clear number one priority for Fifers – twice as many put that at the top of their list ahead of drug dealing or use, violent crime, house break-ins and speeding.
Fifers’ national priorities were topped by counter terrorism and national security, followed by violent crime, drugs, and serious organised crime.
These chimed with views across Scotland.
Unveiling the results, Kate Thomson, Assistant Chief Constable, said: “While there is some variation of local priorities across our 13 divisions, there are recurring themes of anti-social behaviour, homes being broken into and drug dealing or misuse.
“Local commanders will be updating their communities in the forthcoming weeks on how they will be addressing these issues through meetings and the use of both traditional and social media channels.”
She added: “We appreciate the feedback provided, and recognise some responses could have been enhanced by either a request for additional information, or a limit to the number of options which could be selected.
“It is only by having this direct feedback from communities that we are able to assess the aspirations of the communities we serve.
“These improvements to the survey have now been updated and will assist us to better understand the views and needs of our communities. This will in turn influence how we deliver excellence in service. We hope the results are clearly presented, however, would be grateful for any constructive suggestions for future change.”
ACC Thomson put the rise in reported crimes of violence down to the work done to support victims.
“There are many aspects to violent crime, which take place in both public and private areas, and include robbery, domestic abuse and sexual crime.
“We are seeing an increase in reporting of some aspects of these crimes, which we understand to be an indication of confidence in our approach and support of victims. The picture of violence varies across the country, so we ensure flexibility of local and specialist support services, to reflect the demand across communities.”
She also highlighted the national concerns over counter terrorism and security.
“We recently announced an increase of 124 armed officers, to ensure we have the capacity and capability across Scotland to respond to any emerging threat. This is complemented by work which aims to identify and prevent those vulnerable to supporting terrorism, from taking this path.”
To take part, visit www.scotland.police.uk/yourviewcounts.