Good Public Relations; Critical for Positive Public Image of Law Enforcement Agencies.

Abuja, Nigeria. July 21st, 2015 – A recent snap poll conducted by NOIPolls to gauge the perception of Abuja residents on law enforcement agencies operating in the city of Abuja has revealed that ‘improvement in public relations’ (18 percent) is critical for boosting the overall public image and perception of law enforcement agencies. Residents also suggested that the law enforcement agency personnel should be ‘Committed to work' (16 percent), even as the agencies ensure constant re-orientation and training of personnel. These suggestions are most critical to the law enforcement agencies especially as reported cases of brutality of Nigerian citizens by some of these agencies have negatively impacted their public image.[1] 

An evaluation of the law enforcement agencies based on the rating of critical attributes including ‘Friendliness’‘Transparency of dealings’ and ‘Effectiveness’  revealed that overall, the "Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp" (NSCDC) is considered the friendliest agency as it received the best rating (3.7) in terms of ‘Friendliness’. Similarly, the ‘Nigerian Army’ (3.8) and the 'NSCDC' (3.8) received the best rating in ‘Transparence of dealing’, thus suggesting that these agencies are more likely to be open about their activities and basic information of operation to residents of Abuja and other stakeholders.  Again, the ‘Nigerian Army’ is considered the most ‘Effective’ agency as it received the best rating (4.3) in this attribute, while being closely followed by the ‘Department of State Service (DSS)’ with an overall rating of 4.0. In addition, the ‘Joint Task Force’ is considered the least friendly, transparent in dealings, as well as the least effective agency as it received the worst rating in all three attributes (1.7; 1.6; 2.0).

Finally, while these findings mark critical areas of focus for improvement, it is also imperative that an overall evaluation of processes be carried out. In so doing, special attention should be given to recruitment and management of their workforce in order to address the rising cases of brutality of Nigerian citizens.

Brief Background

Law enforcement agencies are government agencies saddled with the responsibility of enforcing the laws and maintaining the internal security of the state.[1] They also operate within a well-defined code of conduct to avoid unnecessary interference and ensure maximum coherent cooperation. Some of the Law enforcement Agencies in Abuja include; Nigeria Custom service, Nigeria Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Police Force amongst others. However, additional agencies were formed within the Abuja jurisdiction, these are; Vehicle Inspection Officers, Abuja Environmental Protect, Joint Task Force etc.[2]

These agencies all function within their specified responsibilities, working coherently to ensure that Abuja residents comply with the specified laws governing its jurisdiction; although, several reports have revealed that residents are of varied opinions on the relevance and/or importance and effectiveness, of these agencies, especially given the rising cases of brutality of these agencies.

Against this background, NOIPolls Ltd conducted a poll to bring to light a detailed analysis on the visibility of the law enforcement agencies in Abuja as well the different opinions of Abuja residents with regards to the Friendliness, Transparency of dealings and Effectiveness of these law enforcement agencies. The poll was specifically targeted at law enforcement agencies operating in Abuja, thus sample selection was limited to the FCT.

Key Findings

Respondents were asked three specific questions. Firstly, with the aim of gauging the awareness and visibility of Law enforcement agencies in Abuja, respondents were asked: Which Law Enforcement Agency do you see operate in Abuja? While several law enforcement agencies operate in Abuja, responses revealed that their visibility to residents of Abuja vary, with some being highly visible based on their mandate for operation and frequency of interaction with the Abuja populace and others being less visible. In line with this, findings revealed that among all law enforcement agencies operating in Abuja, the ‘Nigerian Police Force(NPF)’ (70 percent) is most visible to the residents of Abuja. This is followed by the ‘Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)’ (61 percent) and Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) with 53 percent.  Some other agencies in operation which could be considered somewhat visible to the residents of Abuja include the ‘Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC)’ (28 percent),‘Abuja Environmental Protection Board’ (AEPB) with 19 percent and the ‘Motor Park Task Force’ (7 percent).

In addition the Nigeria Custom Service (3 percent), Joint Task Force (3 percent), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) (3 percent) and ‘Department of State Service’ (DSS) (2 percent) were the least mentioned agencies, thus indicating low visibility of the operations of these agencies.

Subsequently with the aim of rating the operations of these agencies, respondents were asked: How would you rate the agencies in terms of friendliness, transparency and effectiveness? To achieve this, respondents were asked to rate the mentioned attributes on a scale of ‘1 to 5’, where ‘1’ represented very poor and ‘5’ a very good rating. These ratings were critical in evaluating the overall public image of these agencies. In terms of Friendliness, findings revealed that the ‘NSCDC’ (3.7) which was rated above average received the highest rating to this effect. Similarly, the ’DSS’ (3.5), ‘FRSC’ (3.4), ‘NDLEA’ (3.3) and the ‘Nigerian Army (3.3) received ratings above average in ‘Friendliness’, while agencies such as the VIO (2.3) AEPB (1.9), Motor Park Task Force (1.8) and Joint Task Force (1.7) received poor ratings (all below average).

With regards to ‘Transparency of dealings’, again the ‘NSCDC’ (3.8), Nigerian Army (3.8), ‘FRSC’ (3.5), ‘NDLEA’ (3.4), ’DSS’ (3.3) and‘Nigeria Custom service’ (3.2) received ratings above average in this attribute, with the Nigerian Army and FRSC receiving the highest rating in this attribute. On the other hand, the ‘Joint Task Force’ (1.6), ‘Motor Park Task Force’ (1.9), ‘AEPB’ (2.2) and the‘Nigerian Police Force’ (2.2) were rated poor in terms of their ‘Transparency of dealings’.

The effectiveness of the agencies was also evaluated and findings revealed that the ‘Nigerian Army’ (4.3) and ‘DSS’ (4.0) received good ratings in this attribute and these also represented the highest ratings compared with other agencies. In addition, ‘Joint Task Force’ (2.0) and the ‘Motor Park Task Force’ (2.3) received the lowest ratings; moreover they both received the lowest ratings in all three attributes compared with other agencies. This therefore depicts that the residents of Abuja generally have a poor perception towards the operations of these agencies.

A critical argument which could be presented from these findings lies in the correlation between the visibility of an agency and the perception of public towards the agency. In order words it can be argued that agencies with higher visibility due to higher frequency of interaction with the public (as shown in the first chart) are more likely to have poor public perception (just as in the case of the Nigerian Police Force and VIO as shown in the chart below). However these arguments would be ruled out by the fact that agencies such as the FRSC which is highly visible in operation has a relatively better public perception compared with the Nigerian Police Force. Also the Joint Task Force which appears to be less visible in terms of operation has the worst public image and perception. Thus the visibility of an agency is not likely to affect the perception of the public.

NSCDC: Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps; DSS: Department of State Service; FRSC: Federal Road Safety Corps; NA: Nigerian Army; NDLEA: National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; NCS: Nigeria Customs Service; NPF: Nigeria Police Force; VIO: Vehicle Inspection Office; AEPB: Abuja Environmental Protection Board

 

Finally, respondents were asked:  In your opinion, what suggestions can be given to these agencies? Findings revealed that based on suggestions from the respondents, residents of Abuja would mostly want to see an  ‘improvement in public relations (18 percent) of these agencies especially for agencies that were rated below average in terms of friendliness, moreover this attribute generally received the least rating for almost all the agencies compared with Transparence and effectiveness.

Residents also suggested law enforcement agency personnel be ‘Committed to work' (16 percent) ‘stop the collection of bribe’(12 percent) and ‘abide by their code of conduct’ (10 percent). Also, agencies should ensure continuous 're-orientation' of agency personnel’  in order to boost their overall public image and perception. These would be more critical to agencies that were rated below average in transparency and effectiveness such as the Joint Task Force.

In conclusion, the law enforcement poll has revealed that the visibility of law enforcement agencies to residents of Abuja varies; with the ‘Nigerian Police Force’ topping the list of agencies mostly seen in operation in Abuja. Similarly the perception of the public towards these agencies also varies; while the Joint Task Force (JTF) is considered the least friendly (1.7), transparent in dealing (1.6) and effective (2.0) agency in Abuja, the ‘NSCDC’ is considered the friendliest agency as it received the best rating (3.7) in terms of ‘Friendliness’. Similarly, the ‘Nigerian Army’ (3.8) and the ‘NSCDC’ (3.8) received the best rating in ‘Transparence of dealing’. In addition, the ‘Nigerian Armyis considered the most ‘Effective’ agency as it received the best rating (4.3) in this attribute, Finally, to enhance public perception of these agencies especially for those with poor public image, the residents of Abuja  recommend ‘improvement in public relations’ of these agencies which could be achieved through training of their workforce.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of 6th July 2015. It involved telephone interviews of a random Abuja targeted sample. 500 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, were interviewed. NOIPolls Limited is No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1]Europol functions

[1]http://dailyindependentnig.com/2015/03/activist-decries-rising-cases-police-brutality

[2] www.finelib.com