Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Indices characterizing the activity of law enforcement bodies: 2015-2017, 2019, 2021

March 16, 2022

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Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly - Vanadzor hereby presents the results of the survey conducted in 2021 with the involvement of APR Group NGO in the frame of the project “Establishment of a human rights-based Police as a guarantee of public trust” with the financial support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The survey aims to compute the index of arbitrariness of the RA law enforcement bodies (Police, courts, Prosecutor’s office) and the index of trust in the RA Police.  

 

The report also includes information as to how citizens trust law enforcement bodies, whether they are ready to cooperate with the police and how they assess the work of the police and human rights organizations.

 

The survey was conducted taking into account the population’s educational, socio-economic, gender affiliation and main sources of information.

 

The analysis was made in comparison with the results of surveys conducted previously, and as a result, a number of patterns, changes and tendencies were identified in public perceptions of the activity of law enforcement bodies.

 

Values of “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” and “The index of trust in Police” are directly related to public and political developments in the country and the degree of law enforcement agencies’ involvement in them. This is evidenced by the variations of indicators of the two indices during 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2019 and 2019-2021. Besides, the indices are also greatly - both negatively and positively - affected by the activities taken in the sphere.

 

Values of the indices decreased in 2016, since the capture of the RA Police Patrol-Guard Service Regiment took place, and law enforcement workstyle underwent certain changes during the incidents that followed.

 

 

This index increased in 2017, but was still close to 0. The results of the survey conducted in 2019 clearly show how socio-political processes of 2018 affected public perceptions. The stereotype of the Police serving the authorities underwent radical changes in public perception. Though the positive nature of those perceptions persisted in 2021, it still decreased as compared to 2019 due to illegal activities of the Police during the Artsakh war, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Values of “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” and its sub-indices have almost always been the lowest in the city of Yerevan and Syunik Province. The indices have always been the lowest among the urban population. In the results of studies carried out in 2015-2017, the indices were relatively lower among the male population. One of the potential reasons for low ratings is that representatives of the mentioned groups are more active in social-economic and civil processes, thus their responses and judgements are more based on personal experience and observations.

 

Thus, we can state that the political events of 2018, in particular, the revolution, essentially increased the positive attitude of the public towards the police and other force structures, and also increased the feeling of safety during mass public and/or political events. However, all that happened in 2020 – Artsakh war and spread of Covid-19 – somewhat diminished the positive attitudes.

 

In this context, the objective reality, as well as the information spread in mass media, social sites and internet media about this reality, play an important role and direct the public's positive or negative perceptions. The impact of reforms made in the police system on public perceptions is also visible, and as a result, the indices of the attitude towards the Police increased in 2019, and there was a certain increase in 2021, as well.

 

Below you can read the summary of the report.

 

Summary

 

Comparison of the results of the survey carried out in 2021 with the results of similar surveys carried out in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 discloses a number of patterns, changes and tendencies in public perceptions of law enforcement activity.

 

  • Values of “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” and “The index of trust in Police” are directly related to public and political developments in the country and the degree of law enforcement agencies’ involvement in them. This is evidenced by the variations of indices during 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2019 and 2019-2021. Besides, the indices are also greatly –both negatively and positively - affected by the activities taken in the sphere. Values of the indices reduced in 2016, since the capture of the RA Police Patrol-Guard Service Regiment took place, and during the incidents that followed, law enforcement workstyle underwent certain changes. During this period, the public qualified law enforcement activity as a means to suppress the opposition political force by the ruling political force. Moreover, in 2016, “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” was below 0. The index increased in 2017 and was in the positive range, and yet, it was close to 0. Results of the study carried out in 2019 clearly reflect the impact of socio-political processes of 2018 on public perceptions. A revolution took place through rallies with participation of broad layers of society. During these processes, the public witnessed manifestations of the conduct of former and new authorities, as well as the change of police workstyle. The power no longer belonged to those who, according to public perceptions, previously used law enforcement bodies as a means to put pressure on the opposition. Through revolution, the new authorities proclaimed the victory of society and stated that the power was already in the hands of the people.  Thus, in the public perception, the stereotype of the police serving the authorities underwent radical changes. Though the positive nature of those perceptions persists in 2021, it still reduced as compared to 2019 due to the Artsakh war, as well as illegal activities of the Police during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The value of “the index of law enforcement arbitrariness” was “0” in 2015, then it decreased to “-6” in 2016, then it increased to “7” in 2017, it increased to “35” in 2019, and then it decreased to “25” in 2021. Component indices of “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” also underwent changes and significantly increased in the post-revolutionary period, and then essentially decreased in the post-war period. The component “citizens’ concern index” had negative values in the results of studies carried out before the revolution. In 2019, as compared to the result of the previous study, it increased by “35”. As compared to 2019, in 2021 it decreased by “16”, however, it increased by “19” as compared to 2017. In 2015, “the index of personal insecurity” had a positive value (“5”) close to “0”, while in 2016 it was in the negative range and had the value “-7”; in 2017, it increased and appeared in the positive range, but was still close to “0” (“9”), and in 2019 it increased by “30” and became “39”. In 2021, the value of the index of personal insecurity reduced by “11” and became “28”. The other component, i.e., “the index of personal concern”, had a positive value during the previous studies. In 2015, it was “20”; in 2016, it was “17”; in 2017, it was “29”; in 2019, it was “49”. In 2021, the index somewhat decreased and became “44”.

  • Values of “The index of law enforcement arbitrariness” and sub-indices have almost always been the lowest in the city of Yerevan and Syunik Province. The indices have always been the lowest among the urban population (as compared to the population of village communities). In the results of studies carried out in 2015-2017, the indices were relatively lower among the male population (as compared to the female population). Just as in case of village/city, when observing the difference between male/female, one of the potential reasons for low ratings is that representatives of the mentioned groups are more active in social-economic and civil processes, thus their responses and judgements are more based on personal experience and observations. In 2019, “the index of law enforcement arbitrariness” was equal among men and women (“35”); in 2021, it was also equal (“25”). In 2019, the index of citizens’ concern was of higher value among men (“20”) as compared to women (“17”); while in 2021, those values were closer to 0 and the value was higher among men (“3”) than women (“1”). In 2019, “the index of personal insecurity” was a bit lower among men (“38”) as compared to women (“39”); while in 2021, it was “27” among men, and “28” among women. In 2019, “the index of personal concern” was essentially low among men (“45”) as compared to women (“60”); while in 2021, it became “44” among men and “45” among women. Observation of the indices as per sex is based on the hypothesis that male persons deal with law enforcement representatives more frequently than female persons, thus, men’s responses and judgements are more based on personal experience or observations. On the other hand, it can be assumed that the revolution had a bigger influence on women’s than on men’s assessments, as men’s post-war ratings almost do not differ from post-revolutionary ratings, whereas women’s ratings sharply increased in the post-revolutionary period and sharply decreased in the post-war period. When observing the index of law enforcement arbitrariness and its components as per age, it can be seen that the index value is lower among lower and higher age groups, and it is of medium value among the medium age groups (26-45). In this case, it can also be seen that the indices sharply increased among all age groups in 2019 and somewhat decreased in 2021. When observing the results of all studies as per education levels, a pattern is singled out according to which the higher the education, the lower the index of law enforcement arbitrariness and its components, and vice versa, i.e., the lower the education level, the higher the positive values of this index. In the data of studies carried out before 2021, there was a link between the index of law enforcement arbitrariness (and all component indices) and the amount of monthly income of respondent families. Results of 2021 studies show that all current indices do not clearly contain the previously noticed pattern, according to which the indices are higher in medium income groups and low in the lowest and highest income groups. Thus, according to 2021 study results, it is not possible to state that there is a clear correlation between a family’s average monthly income and the index of law enforcement arbitrariness. In 2021, there is a certain correlation between the index of law enforcement arbitrariness and social class affiliation of respondents. In this context, the pattern is manifested by the change of the value as compared to the previous index.  The lower the respondent’s rating of economic status, the more the decrease of indices as compared to the previous study.

  • According to the data of studies implemented in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, ratings of law enforcement work were observed based on the main sources of respondents’ information. Thus, according to the data of studies of 2016 and 2017, respondents whose main source of information was the TV generally tended to give positive assessments, while social sites and online media users generally tended to give negative assessments. Those differences were previously related to the condition that TV channels were mostly considered to be controlled by the authorities and thus they presented the information which was favorable for the current authorities.  This evidences non-objectivity of TV channels. As compared to television, online media (partly) and social sites (generally) are uncontrollable by the authorities, and are thus more free to present the objective truth. In 2019, positive perceptions increased among respondents whose main source of information was the television, as well as those whose main source of information was online media and social sites. Though positive perceptions slightly decreased in 2021, they are still generally higher than the values of previous years. 

  • Though the indices varied in the results of studies of different years, indicators of the index of trust in police were mainly in the positive range (above 30). This shows that though the society continues attributing to the police features such as arbitrariness and illegality, those negative attitudes essentially decreased in 2019, which evidences that society still has expectations from the police as a law enforcement body. In 2021, “the index of assessment of police activity” increased by “1” as compared to the results of the study carried out in 2019, and it increased by “12” as compared to 2017, it increased by “18” as compared to 2016, it increased by “13” as compared to the results of 2015 study (“49” in 2021, “48” in 2019, “37” in 2017, “31” in 2016, “36” in 2015); “the index of attitude towards the police”  increased by “5” in 2021 as compared to 2019, it increased by “13” as compared to 2017, it increased by 26 as compared to 2016, it decreased by 4 as compared to 2015 (“53” in 2021, “48” in 2019, “40” in 2017, “27” in 2016, “49” in 2015), and “the index of preparedness to cooperate with the police” decreased by “4” in 2021 as compared to 2019, it increased by “2” as compared to 2017, it increased by 13 as compared to 2016, it increased by “7” as compared to 2015   (49 in 2021, “53” in 2019, “47” in 2017, “36” in 2016, “42” in 2015). The indices of trust in police mainly increased as compared to previous studies or remained the same. In this case, a sharp decrease of indices was not recorded. 

  • After 2019, people’s perception of safe places also changed. Previously, people mostly chose “During mass public and/or political events” as the least safe place, which significantly increased in 2019 as compared to 2017 (“13”) and became “42”, while in 2021, it again decreased (“28”), still being higher than the value of 2017. In the results of studies carried out in 2019 and 2021, there was an increase in the number of respondents who mentioned being a victim or witness of crimes such as road accidents, flat robbery, pickpocketing, fraud, etc. Thus, the revolution of 2018 essentially increased the positive attitude of the public towards the police and other force structures, increased the feeling of safety during mass public and/or political events, as well as trust in the results of elections. Later this impact decreased and entailed a certain decrease of indices. As a result of decrease of indices, however, they still have not reached the values that were in place in 2017 and before that.

 

Thus, we can state that the political events of 2018, in particular, the revolution, essentially increased the positive attitude of the public towards police and other force structures, and also increased the feeling of safety during mass public and/or political events. However, all that happened in 2020 – Artsakh war and spread of Covid-19 – somewhat decreased the positive attitudes (especially with respect to legal arbitrariness). Here, the objective truth, as well as the information spread in mass media, social sites and internet media about this truth, have an important role and direct the public positive or negative perceptions. The impact of reforms made in the police system on public perceptions is also visible, and as a result, the indices of the attitude towards the Police increased in 2019, and in 2021 there is a certain increase, too.



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