New ComRes poll for International Justice Mission highlights disparity in citizen perception of the rule of law
A new poll from ComRes on behalf of International Justice Mission (IJM), published today, reveals how protected people in Britain feel compared with those in many countries across the world.
The poll was commissioned to coincide with a groundbreaking new book The Locust Effect, written by IJM’s Founder and CEO Gary Haugen. The book explores why the answer to ending global poverty lies first and foremost in ending common, everyday violence and introducing effective local law enforcement. The problem, it argues, is that the justice systems are so broken that they do not shield the poor from violence.
A 2008 United Nations report estimates that four billion people live outside of the protection of the rule of law. The Locust Effect points to other global studies which reveal troubling trends showing that ‘everyday violence’ – acts of violence that are already against the law, including rape, forced labour, sex trafficking, land grabbing and police brutality – not only threaten the safety of billions of people worldwide but significantly undermine international development efforts aimed at ending poverty across the world.
The ComRes/IJM poll highlights a surprising level of cynicism about the extent to which law enforcement in the UK acts with integrity. The British public are split evenly over whether the police have a ‘significant corruption problem’ and almost four in ten, 37%, believe that generally, the British Government is corrupt.
But despite such concerns, this does not appear to effect the level of perceived protection and justice provided in the UK. Instead, the poll demonstrates the advantages enjoyed in the prosperous West in terms of the rule of law: 59% in Britain are ‘generally satisfied’ that the country operates under the rule of law, with fewer than one in four (23%) disagreeing. The poll also found that more than half of people in Britain, 54%, said they felt ‘safe walking alone at night in the city or area where I live’. Almost half (48%) trust the courts in Britain to deliver just outcomes and 46% believe that ‘generally speaking people in Britain are treated equally under the law’.
Take into consideration as well that law enforcement is a service that is often out of sight, out of mind; provided it is working well, people almost never think about. As Haugen notes in The Locust Effect, “Most of us in affluent societies have grown so accustomed to the peace and security that is purchased through massive and expensive law enforcement systems”, purchased often indirectly through taxes.
Most noteably, compared to the four billion of the world’s poorest people who do not have such protection, people in UK therefore generally feel safe and well protected. They are not fearful everyday of the sort of violence which affects the poorest, threatened with being beaten, raped, enslaved, imprisoned and robbed. And when violence does occur, law enforcement is considered capable of delivering justice and ensuring that laws are enforced.
It is this rule of law that ensures that the UK is not ravaged by extreme poverty, i.e. those who live off the equivalent of $1.25 a day. Where girls don’t go to school for fear of being sexually assaulted, where millions are run off their property which is their source of income, and where the simple fact of being poor makes individuals even more susceptible to violence and exploitation, this plague of predatory violence is impacting our efforts to lift the global poor out of poverty.
Haugen, says “what people most need is to be sure that the wealth they create, and the families they raise, are free from the threat of violence and random appropriation by violence. The international community has to start by recognising this at the heart of the problem of development and work with IJM and others to bring security where there is none.”
The Locust Effect is due for release in the UK on 13th March. Copies can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Or for more information, please go to TheLocustEffect.com.