Community confidence in police falls post-pandemic

Fraser Barton |

Steve Gollschewski says there has been an erosion of confidence in all public institutions.
Steve Gollschewski says there has been an erosion of confidence in all public institutions.

Community confidence in police has dropped sharply since the pandemic, sparking concerns for Queensland’s commissioner.

Police chief Steve Gollschewski said public faith in other Australian jurisdictions were also on the decline post-COVID, citing Western Australia and Victoria.

Data released by Queensland Police on Friday revealed 65.5 per cent of 6000 people surveyed said they trusted officers, down from 72 per cent in 2021.

Perception of integrity had also fallen with just over 50 per cent saying police treated people fairly and equally, down from 72.9 per cent.

Queensland police officers (file image)
Community confidence in Queensland Police has dropped sharply. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

In other survey results, 43.2 per cent of respondents felt safe walking in their neighbourhood at night, compared to 52.3 per cent in 2021.

Only 27.6 per cent felt safe when travelling alone on public transport at night.

“(Community confidence) in policing for the period between July 2023 and March 2024 is sharply down, and that’s of concern to me,” Mr Gollschewski said.

“But I think you also need to take it in context there has been an erosion of confidence in public institutions over recent years broadly, and now we’ve been caught up in that pretty significantly.”

More than two thirds of respondents were satisfied with police after having contact with them in the past 12 months and 61.3 per cent felt confident to report domestic and family violence.

Mr Gollschewski said other Australian jurisdictions used different methods for collecting public feedback data, but he believed there was enough statistics to indicate a parallel post-COVID decline in police confidence in other states.

A COVID policy protester confronts police (file image)
Queensland police believe the pandemic affected attitudes towards authorities. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The police chief said available data showed community confidence in WA police had dropped 10 per cent to 69 per cent in the same reporting period. 

In Victoria, it had decreased from 75 per cent to 58 per cent. 

Mr Gollschewski said a drop in public institution confidence was not only consistent in Australia but also globally.

“There’s been this erosion,” he said.

“COVID really did change things a lot. Even our offending, the way that’s occurred since COVID, has continued to change.

“What I’m trying to build into this organisation (is a) continual ability and capability to transform itself and deliver the best possible services.”

Mr Gollschewski took over as Queensland’s top cop in April, with one of his main priorities combating a rise in domestic and family violence.

Queensland police are set to respond to almost 200,000 domestic and family violence incidents by the end of the financial year – up 12 per cent. 

“Domestic and family violence continues to be a major challenge for us, in all of our community in fact,” Mr Gollschewski said.

Queensland Police is looking at improving its response to domestic violence matters, working through a series of reports and recommendations following a damning 2022 inquiry.

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