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More than three-quarters of the public have confidence in the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland, a new survey has found.
While the North’s director of public prosecutions and head of the PPS, Barra McGrory QC, has been criticised by some unionist and British Conservative politicians, actual public confidence in the service has increased by five percentage points.
A total of 76 per cent said they believed the PPS provided a fair and impartial prosecution service to the people of the North.
According to the findings of the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey published on Thursday, this was a significant increase on the 71 per cent confidence level of last year, and the highest confidence level in over a decade.
The survey showed a rise in confidence among both Catholic and Protestant communities.
Mr McGrory announced in May that he is to stand down next month as DPP, when he will have served almost six years.
In recent months he faced some political censure over the PPS’s decision to prosecute a small number of British soldiers for Troubles-related killings. He said his decision to stand down was not motivated by this criticism.
The survey also found that 73 per cent of respondents were confident that the service took its decisions independently, a rise of nine percentage points from 2015, when this question was first asked.
More than seven out of 10 respondents were very or fairly confident that the PPS was effective at prosecuting people accused of committing a crime – it was 65 per cent in 2016.
Mr McGrory, welcoming the survey’s results, said the aim of the PPS was to provide people with an independent, fair and effective prosecution service.
“During my time as Director of Public Prosecutions I have had a strong commitment to being open and transparent about our decision-making. I believe that this is the key way to building an understanding of what we do, and ensuring the public can have confidence in our decisions.
“Over the last number of years we have seen a steady rise in the levels of confidence in the PPS, and this is a credit to the professionalism and dedication of all of our staff who work tirelessly in the interests of justice.”
The Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey has been regularly carried out since 2006. The latest survey of 911 people was conducted over the three-month period from April to June 2017.