UAE police forces have the trust of their residents, poll shows

A YouGov poll finds nearly eight out of every 10 residents say the country’s police men and women are doing an excellent or good job in keeping the UAE a safe place in which to live.

Graduation ceremony at the Police College in Abu Dhabi. Police officers have been overwhelmingly praised by residents for the work they do. Christopher Pike / The National
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ABU DHABI // Police officers and the work they do to tackle crime and bring offenders to justice have been overwhelmingly praised by residents living in the UAE.

A crime survey looking at perceptions of crime and residents belief in the criminal justice system found about almost 8 in 10 (79 per cent) believe police are doing an excellent or good job in their emirate.

The YouGov survey, which was commissioned by The National newspaper and is the first of its kind in the UAE, also revealed that the vast majority of those polled felt confident in local police, trusted them to deal with minor and major crimes across the country and believed they would be treated with respect should they encounter a local officer.

“Overall, when it comes to police people trust them and they feel they are proactive and help them,” said Lara Al Barazi, associate research director of YouGov. “They feel confident and trust in them.

“ It is really high across all emirates and nationalities.”

The survey found almost two fifths (38 per cent) believed the police in their emirate are doing an excellent job followed by 4 in 10 (41 per cent) who cited “good”.

The most positive reaction to police were residents living in Abu Dhabi.

Of those asked, 85 per cent of respondents from Abu Dhabi agreed the police in their emirate are doing an excellent/good job followed by 81 per cent of respondents who agreed from the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain.

Of those asked, 77 per cent of respondents from Dubai and 76 per cent from respondents from Sharjah agreed police were doing an excellent or good.

Overall, about 8 in 10 (79 per cent) believe the police in their emirate would treat them with respect if they had contact with them for any reason.

Again, the highest agreement came from those residing in Abu Dhabi (86 per cent).

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) agreed that the police in their emirate can be relied on to deal with minor crimes. Similarly, 76 per cent agree the police in their emirate can be relied on to deal with major crimes.

Of the 1,008 people polled, 7 in 10 (71 per cent) agreed the police in their emirate are dealing with issues that matter and about 8 in 10 (78 per cent) have confidence in the police in their local emirate after taking everything into account.

While trust in police was high regardless of nationality and gender, some were more favourable than others.

“When it comes to trust in police, I think it increases with income level,” said Ms Al Barazi. “The higher your income level the more trust you have in police.”

“The highest trust comes from Emiratis and Arab expatriates. Especially Arab expatriates when you compare to what they could have back home — it is incomparable. They really trust the police and don’t have any issues with them.

“The trust shows because they do not contact police just for crime-related issues or traffic accidents — they call them for information, for advice. If you get stuck somewhere or have a flat tyre — you call the police. I don’t think there is anywhere in the world there is that kind of feeling. You feel they are protecting you.”

This trust increases among expatriates with the more dealing they have with police, said Ms Al Barazi.

“Once they have been in touch with the police or experience the police — they feel more kind of at ease with them and more safe.

“They have had experience with them and they feel it is not something they need to worry about. They are here to protect us, they are trustworthy and they can help us with any kind of case.

“We can rely on them for any kind of minor or major crime. It gives that comfortable feeling to anyone residing in the UAE.”

Almost half of all respondents (47 per cent) believe police protection in the Emirate they live in has increased. Agreement is highest from respondents residing in Abu Dhabi (51 per cent).

The survey, commissioned by The National, questioned 1,008 people — 131 Emiratis, 287 Arab expatriates, 530 Asian expatriates and 48 Westerners and 12 others living in the seven emirates.