Devolving policing and justice powers

Another Belfast Telegraph poll, this time on the issue of the devolution of policing and justice powers. Despite the headline on the report, the interesting figures are in the breakdown of when those powers should be devolved – 43% overall said “criminal justice and policing should be devolved to a local Assembly when there is sufficient confidence in local communities”, while “only 19% overall supported the formal transfer of powers to the local administration by the Governments’ target date of May next year” – I’d suggest they mean as a deadline. Oh, and 14% replied ‘never’.From the Belfast Telegraph

A total of 43% overall said criminal justice and policing should be devolved to a local Assembly when there is sufficient confidence in local communities.

And that scenario was supported by 46% of Protestants and 39% of Catholics questioned on the issue.

In an Ipsos MORI poll for this newspaper in March, a majority – 58% – were in favour of policing and justice powers being devolved, with just over a third opposing.

That figure is now rising – with 73% overall in favour.

However, only 19% overall supported the formal transfer of powers to the local administration by the Governments’ target date of May next year, contained in the St Andrews Agreement.

The official deadline has the support of just 17% of Protestants and 21% of Catholics (29% of Sinn Fein supporters and 24% SDLP).

A total of 19% of Protestants – and only 6% of Catholics – say policing and justice should never be devolved to the Stormont regime.

Half of DUP supporters and 45% of Ulster Unionist supporters say responsibility should be devolved when there is enough public confidence – against 39% of Sinn Finn supporters and 35% of SDLP supporters.

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  • kensei

    I’m not sure about this poll. “When sufficient public confidence exists” is a nebulous idea that means different things to different people. No consensus on what it means, who it means and the like, whereas the others are concrete proposals. I suggest that there are several ways of asking that questions (throw in the word “veto”, for larks) that will give you entirely different answers.

    Plus they didn’t appear to ask the question “Do you have confidence / Do you believe that policing powers should be transferred” and if no, what is the objection.

    Seriously, who the hell designs these things?

  • I Wonder

    Given that the option of “when sufficienct confidence exists” WAS so nebulous it’s surprising that 99% didn’t opt for it!

    There are only 2 states of control possible:

    Devolved or not devolved (?)

    Which would you prefer?

  • joeCanuck

    You raise a very interesting point Kensei.
    There is an article in the August/September issue of Scientific American Mind titled “How words shape thought”.
    The gist of it is that, supported by experiments, you can completely reverse the accepability of a situation by presenting in two different ways, either from a positive viewpoint or a negative one.
    One simple example it gives is asking people if they would prefer to eat a 75% lean burger or a 25% fat burger. The large majority prefer the 75% lean. Even when given 2 identical burgers to taste, most people said that the 75% lean one tasted much better!

  • USA

    Yes one of the categories raises questions about the credibility of the poll.
    Having said that, the headline seems wholly appropriate given that 73% are ultimately in favour of transfering policing and justice powers to the local assembly.

  • USA

    With a futher 13% undecided.

  • Garibaldy

    Of course given that the responsibilty for the most sensitive and previously controversial areas of policing no longer are the job of the police, does it really matter a great deal?

  • Mick Fealty

    The two questions are reflective of two party positions. The DUP for the ‘nebulous’ option. And the May ‘deadline’ is the official Sinn Fein position. That’s what gives it meaning, and some force. Not least since the vast majority of Catholics seem to think the DUP has got it right.

  • “That’s what gives it meaning, and some force.”

    Indeed.

  • kensei

    “The two questions are reflective of two party positions. The DUP for the ‘nebulous’ option. And the May ‘deadline’ is the official Sinn Fein position. That’s what gives it meaning, and some force. Not least since the vast majority of Catholics seem to think the DUP has got it right.”

    I don’t think it translates. It is not yet an issue because the DUP hasn’t said no. The nebulous option has no meaning and isn’t translated into the real world – and they didn’t probe the deeper issues – is there confidence? What would it need? Why do you object?

    If and when the DUP does say no, it will quickly become a very public bone of contention, and those figures will shift. As it is, right now, it’s meaningless.

  • Pete Baker

    “As it is, right now, it’s meaningless.”

    As it is, right now, it’s a snapshot of what public opinion is on this issue when faced with a choice of several options.. including the stated positions of two parties in particular.

  • Cahal

    “Not least since the vast majority of Catholics seem to think the DUP has got it right.”

    I think you mean 39% of Catholics polled in a very dubious BelTel poll. These polls are meaningless – garbage in, garbage out.

  • kensei

    “As it is, right now, it’s a snapshot of what public opinion is on this issue when faced with a choice of several options.. including the stated positions of two parties in particular.”

    It is a snapshot with absolutely nothing behind it. Poll people with two options, one of which vaguely aspiration, and one concrete, and they will tend toward the vaguely aspirational and vaguely aspiration will win 9/10. And without some polling about the attitudes behind them, it’s useless say to the DUP or SF to determine how easily than can try to outmaneuver SF by pushing the deadline, because it gives no indication of the foundations of those positions or how they are likely to shift when the real world intervenes. It’s just the vaguest of baseline perceptions.

    And actually, the option does not represent the DUP option. What they want, whether they state it explicitly or not, is Unionist community confidence. Stick that one word in and the poll and I guarantee the results will shift.

    It really is of limited usefulness.

  • Pete Baker

    “Poll people with two options..”

    Go and do that poll, Ken, rather than the one that was actually done.

    “It really is of limited usefulness.”

    So you keep saying.

    You do know what “a snapshot of public opinion” means?

    [That’s rhetorical btw]

  • kensei

    “Go and do that poll, Ken, rather than the one that was actually done.”

    The point remains the same, regardless of whether they polled a few more concrete options. Pedantry really is a crap response.

    “So you keep saying.

    You do know what “a snapshot of public opinion” means?

    [That’s rhetorical btw]”

    Do you know that the statement “the camera never lies” isn’t actually true? I often find it is least true when the camera is broken. Funny things, cameras.

    [Go condescend someone else, btw]

  • Pete Baker

    Condescending?

    LOL

    “Pedantry really is a crap response.”

    And, passing over the hypocrisy again, if we could get back to the findings of the actual report it would be a start..

  • Cruimh

    Pete vs Ken – looks like we might find out what does happen when an irresistable force meets an irresistable object!

  • Cruimh

    whoops – immovable object LOL

  • kensei

    Very simple solution – don’t be a pedant.

    “And, passing over the hypocrisy again, if we could get back to the findings of the actual report it would be a start..”

    Yeah, let’s ignore the underlying problems in the methodology because it suits your argument. Let’s ignore the fact there is no further information to put the results in any kind of context because it suits your argument.

    This poll says the following:

    1. Transfer of powers seems accepted in principle – only 14% think it should never happen.

    2. This is a moderate shift since the last poll.

    3. On a prima facie level, the DUP has the advantage in the argument over timing. However, we don’t know how people interpret “community confidence”, whether they feel confident at the moment, what is likely to improve (or dent) their confidence or how they are likely to react in the event of a DUP veto. Also nothing on sample size or sample distribution, or polling methodology. This limits the usefulness for drawing conclusions.

    I don’t know if you know if you find that useful. I don’t.

  • kensei

    “Pete vs Ken – looks like we might find out what does happen when an irresistable force meets an irresistable object!”

    Yeah, ick.

  • Cruimh

    Matthew 5:9 Ken 😉

  • qubol

    Pete Baker: As it is, right now, it’s a snapshot of what public opinion is on this issue when faced with a choice of several options

    No it’s not.
    The point you avoid Pete is that the options you refer to are effectively meaningless because as Kensei points out, if you word those options differently you’ll most likely see a different result. If you consider the wording and remember who commissioned the pole no-one in their right mind could say this **is** a snapshot of public opinion on the issue.
    That being the case why don’t we call this poll what it is – a lame Telegraph page filler.

  • oldruss

    “When sufficient public confidence exists,” does seem a bit nebulous. The poll wasn’t, I suspect, intended to be scientific, but rather was designed to provide for a news article which would sell newspapers. Perhaps that is cynical, but I don’t think so.

    As for the underlying issue, when should criminal justice and policing be devolved to a local Assembly?

    My preference would be to frame that question this way: “Why should criminal justice and policing not be devolved to a local Assembly?”

    Is there, at present, some inherent impediment with the executive and the Assembly, some dysfunctionality, which would negate devolving criminal justice and policing to the local Assembly? If the powersharing arrangement is sufficient to trust other governmental functions like education, health care, social services (like the UDA’s money), etc. to the locals, what’s different with criminal justice and policing?