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Written Answers. - Departmental Reports.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 14. Mr. Cuffe Information on Ciarán Cuffe Zoom on Ciarán Cuffe  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the methodology used in the recent report on the public's perception of the Garda Sióchána. [18525/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am advised by the Garda authorities that the survey of public attitudes to the Garda was carried out early in 2002 and asked mainly about Garda services, policing priorities and fear of crime. The fieldwork for the survey was carried out by Research and Evaluation Services, RES, a Belfast-based company that won the contract after an EU-wide tender competition.

This year's survey was substantially larger than previous surveys. All in all, 10,405 respondents took part, with a minimum representation of 400 in each Garda division. This allowed assessment of Garda performances in each Division under key headings. The survey was carried out by telephone – 66% – or by post – 34%. The same core questions were asked in each version. Some questions, where information was not required at the divisional level, were not asked in the telephone survey or were rotated between respondents.

A pilot survey took place in December 2001. Telephone interviewing began on 12 January 2002 and was completed on 24 April 2002. The postal survey took place during the same period, starting and finishing slightly later.

Respondents were selected from the electoral register in the first instance and then matched as far as possible with telephone listings. Where no telephone number was identified, a questionnaire was sent by post with an option of completion using a free-phone number. Letters of introduction were sent in all cases and reminder/thank you letters were issued to participants in the postal survey. The survey was given good media exposure following the release of a briefing by the Garda Public Relations and Press Office. Comparability with earlier surveys was maximised by retaining the exact wording in as many questions as possible. Comparison was not possible in all cases. Several new questions were added.

The survey findings were re-weighted to take account of sampling procedures (e.g. over-representation of some rural divisions to ensure minimum divisional sample size of 400) and differing non-response rates. Reweighting factors for the national sample were population, age and housing tenure, and for the divisional weighting, age and gender.

[1130]I am also advised by the Garda authorities that the findings in the report were presented as point estimates. The true values are likely to lie within a range of +/ 1% at national level – full sample – and +/ 5% at divisional level.

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