After unemployment, the corruption is the biggest problem that Montenegrin citizens face, and there is significant scope for the fight against that problem within the Police, as showed by the research of the regional network POINTPULSE, which is consisted of Institute alternative, Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP), BIRN Serbia, Center for Security Studies from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovar Center for Security Studies.
Dina Bajramspahić, public policy researcher at IA, stated that the research „Police Integrity in Western Balkans“ has been conducted from June 11th – 22nd with 1.292 respondents, adult Montenegrin citizens.
“We asked what are the most important problems Montenegro is facing at this moment. The citizens believe corruption is, after unemployment, the biggest problem in Montenegro, ” Bajramspahić said at PR Center.
She said that the second question was related to the trust in institutions in Montenegro, clarifying that the Police is in second place, after the education system.
“This represents a relatively high level of confidence in relation to the overall context, since the total percentage is 58 percent. Citizens have expressed less confidence toward the judiciary, Market Inspection and the Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative”, stated Bajramspahić.
She said that, when asked about the first association to the police, citizens mostly say that those are safety and security, while the corruption is in second place.
“While answering to the question about how they see the average police officer in Montenegro, citizens have overwhelmingly responded that they see them as arrogant, insolent and brash, while the second part of citizens believe that instill the safety and security,” said Bajramspahić.
The next question, she added, was what is the capacity that police in Montenegro operates within, where 30 percent of the respondents said that they act as a service of citizens.
“Of total number of remaining respondents, 38% say that they act either in the Government’s interest or as the mean to cover and protect political parties – 19 %, or as a mean to protect people who work at the top of Police Administration”, said Bajramspahić.
She said that the majority of citizens, 70 percent of them, believe that politics has an impact on operational work of the police, completely and excessively, while the remaining 27 felt it has was less or no impact at all.
“When it comes to employment in the police, we can see that only 32 percent believe that employment is conducted in accordance with the law – through open competition”, Bajramspahić pointed out.
She said that the views of citizens on the efficiency of the police showed that percentages are extremely high when it comes to public safety, safety in schools and traffic.
“This should explain why there is such a high confidence in the police, and that citizens also have low confidence that the police will effectively fight corruption within the police force and organized and economic crime,” stated Bajramspahić.
When it comes to the prevalence of corruption in the Montenegrin institutions, she added, the police is in the fifth place.
“The most negative opinion citizens have towards Market inspection, judiciary, Customs Administration and health, while the most positive attitude they have toward NGOs, education, the media,” said Bajramspahić.
She explained that the perception of the prevalence of corruption shows that this is not a decisive factor for the views of citizens about trust.
“Almost identical number of citizens have confidence in the police and believe that corruption is widespread, on the basis of which it can be concluded that the citizens decide on the trust based on other factors, not upon the prevalence of the corruption,” Bajramspahić said.
Responding to the question of who is most corrupt in the police, the research showed, as she said, that one third of citizens believe that those are people at top positions in the police, rather than ordinary police officers, inspectors and police officers dealing with economic crime.
“When asked who were the most common forms of corruption, 35 percent of citizens responded that it was taking bribes from criminals, while 28 percent of them considered that it was accepting bribes from citizens,” said Bajramspahić.
Speaking about the bribe, she said that five percent of the respondents who admitted that they have had that kind of experience, 73 per cent of them said that they had only offered a bribe; while 19 percent think it was at the request of police officers.
“Their response was that the most frequent value of bribe was amount of ten Euros,” she said.
Marko Sošić, public policy researcher at IA, explained that the identical questions which were responded by Montenegrin citizens were posed to the citizens of Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“I have to say I was surprised with the degree of overlapping results in these countries. For most questions, the results are almost identical. The only country that stands out is Kosovo, which is characterized by an attitude towards the police which is much more positive than in other countries, “he said.
Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board at IA, considers that there is significant scope to further work on integrity and accountability of police officers and police organizations.
“A lot of space remains for the police to fight against corruption and organized crime in general, but within their force as well. We believe that there is ample room for further work to reduce political influence on employment and the work of the police, as well as on other aspects of integrity, “he said.
The survey was conducted within the regional project „Balkan Pulse For Police Integrity and Trust – POINTPULSE”.