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National strategies point toward the importance of young people being consulted in relation to services and policies that affect them. Interest in the attitudes of young people to police has increased in recent decades yet this has not yet been explored in Ireland. This thesis examines the attitudes of a sample of young people in the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region North to the Gardaí as well as their experiences of contacts with members of An Garda Síochána. This is done mainly through the quantitative research method of a survey. One hundred and three young people aged 15-19 in four different education centres in the Dublin Metropolitan Region North were surveyed. The survey was based on the Garda Public Attitudes Survey 2008, which was administered to approximately 10,000 adults. The survey was edited to make it more focused toward and friendlier to young people. The research found that the young people had a much lower satisfaction rate and a higher level of contact with the Gardaí than their adult counterparts. The contacts were mainly Garda-initiated and negative experiences for the young people. The young people also reported a high level of unacceptable behaviour by Gardaí mainly relating to being disrespectful or impolite, violence and stopping or searching without reason. The research showed that the young people involved had similar experiences to those found internationally and that they felt unfairly discriminated against. This may impact on the legitimacy of the Garda organisation in the eyes of the young people and therefore needs to be addressed. This can be done on a local level through increased non-adversarial contact between Gardaí and young people and through changes in Garda practices including a review of stops and searches and the necessity for them. Further research is also recommended nationally into the use of force and Garda violence towards young people and the attitudes of young people towards the Garda Síochána on a larger scale.
Feeney, Niamh: What do Young People think of the Gardaí?:An Examination of Young Peoples Attitudes Toward and Experiences of the Gardaí:Masters Dissertation. Dublin, DIT, September 2009.