Public Perception Surveys Frequently Asked Questions
In December 2008, all forces and authorities within England and Wales were given individual targets aimed at increasing national public confidence. Creation of thess new targets led to the introduction of a single confidence measure for all forces, and an increased desire to conduct more regular, locally-based confidence surveys.
In 2009, Cheshire Police launched its own confidence survey and used the results to better understand the communities it served. We identified where trust and confidence was low, specific priorities for action and how the force could best inform and engage the community in problem solving activity. However, as a result of the imposed financial cuts on Police Forces and the removal of the mandatory single confidence measure, the Force made the decision to stop this new surveying routine in a bid to save money.
Following changes in how we provide policing services within Cheshire and recognition of the gaps we had in terms of knowing what the public of Cheshire think of us, the force began to start collating perception data once again in April 2012. As there is no Government-led mandate in place this time around, we are free to focus on the issues that we deem of most importance to the force and the public of Cheshire.
Why conduct local surveys?
Although public perception is monitored at a national level via tools such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales, a local public perception survey enables the force to develop a tool that meets our own specific research needs and recognises our own geographical boundaries, right down to the neighbourhood level. In short, a local survey enables us to ask the questions we believe need to be asked within Cheshire. It also provides us with the flexibility and ownership of any resultant data to slice and dice how we see fit.
Are we conducting these surveys in-house?
No – the force uses a company called Swift Research Ltd. The force has worked with this company for over 3 years following a tender process completed in April 2014.
Who are Swift Research Ltd?
Swift Research Ltd are a recognised market research company selected from a national framework originally set up by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and Thames Valley Police. The company is based in Wetherby, North Yorkshire. Cheshire Constabulary has visited Swift Research Ltd to both observe call makers and listen in to a number of interviews to ensure quality of call and care of respondents.
How often are we conducting our surveys?
A sample of telephone calls is conducted on an ongoing basis. There is no set ‘end-date’ for this survey at present, however the force aims to gain feedback from approximately 625 people a quarter and 2500 people over the course of a year.
What methodology are we using to conduct surveys?
Surveys are conducted via a telephone interview. Cheshire chose to use this methodology because it yields better response rates than other techniques (e.g. 45 to 55% telephone, 20 to 25% paper). Use of a telephone survey also allows the force to gather data from those individuals who would be unlikely to return a paper survey, which ultimately means that the information gained, is more reliable and valid.
How are people selected to take part?
Swift Research Ltd uses a quota sample approach to surveying. The quota sample approach utilises an up to date database of named contacts purchased from a preferred data supplier.
Swift Research Ltd will specify an amount of records that matches the demographics of Cheshire in a ratio of 10 records to every interview required. To achieve a sample of 2,500, they will purchase 25,000 records. This ensures that the database purchased is representative and the interviews achieved from that database will in turn be representative of the area. The database purchased will include landline and mobile phone numbers.
Are there any exclusions?
The force will not survey anybody who is not resident in Cheshire or under the age of 16. As unfortunately this cannot be ascertained from the sample information alone (i.e. the telephone number), Swift Research Ltd will ask a number of clarification calls before starting the survey:
Can I just check, are you over 16 years old?
Can you please confirm that you live in Cheshire?
If the answer is ‘No’ to either of these questions, the person answering the call will be asked whether they can pass the call onto someone else in the house.
Please Note: From past experience, when asked ‘is there is anybody else in the house that we could speak to’ has led people (in particular ‘vulnerable’ members of the community, such as the elderly) to then make contact with Cheshire Police to report a ‘suspicious phone call’. In a bid to offer reassurance at point of initial call, Swift Research Ltd have been instructed to always tell the person who they are and why they are calling, in an attempt to reassure the person of the legitimacy of their call, in addition to providing them with details of a member of staff within the data delivery team if they wish to speak to someone directly in the Constabulary.
Have people been told that they will be surveyed?
Care has been taken to ensure adequate communication has been put in place to advise members of the public that surveying will be taking place. However from past experience, it is anticipated that a number of calls will be made to the force querying the legitimacy of the survey.
Please Note: Swift Research Ltd will always tell the person who they are and why they are calling in an attempt to reassure the person of the legitimacy of their call.
Do people have to take part?
No, all respondents are given a choice as to whether they wish to complete the survey or not - if respondents choose not to participate, they are simply thanked for their time and their number is removed from the sample database. People can also choose to terminate the interview at any point if they feel uncomfortable answering the questions posed.
Swift Research Ltd is an accredited member of the Market Research Society (MRS) and adhere to MRS Codes of Conduct. Membership of this national society should provide an assurance to contractors and members of the public that the company is regularly monitored against the Codes of Conduct, and therefore all research is carried out in a professional and ethical manner.
Are residents given a point of contact within the force?
Yes, if residents express distress or a need to verify legitimacy of the call, a contact name and number of a member of staff within the data delivery team is supplied by Swift Research Ltd.
Will numbers be passed on to a third party?
No - Telephone numbers will only be used for this specific project and destroyed after use. No numbers will ever be passed on to a third party for further calls.
Is the information given by respondents kept safe?
Yes – Swift Research Ltd were subjected to an on-site security visit in April 2014 before they were finally awarded the customer satisfaction contract. This site visit, conducted by the Force Information Security Manager, concluded that Swift Research Ltd adhered to information security and data protection protocols in relation to the review, retention and disposal of data.
What about the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)?
Although the Telephone Preference Service allows members of the public to opt out of unsolicited sales or marketing calls, it does not exempt them from being legitimately contacted and asked to participate in genuine research.
The following exemption comes directly from the TPS website front page:
“As TPS registration only prevents marketing calls, organisations will still be able to call you for the purposes of genuine market research”