The survey found that half those questioned in 32 Merseyside districts were satisfied with policing. Older and poorer people were less satisfied, and a sample of 101 black people in the Granby area of Liverpool revealed only 13 per cent satisfied and 67 per cent dissatisfied.
Critics of policing in Granby cited racial harassment (26 per cent), a poor police attitude (17 per cent), and a lack of interest by officers (15 per cent). In the poor and predominantly white districts of Knowsley, people said there were too few officers on the beat (45 per cent).
The Merseyside police authority, which commissioned the poll at a cost of pounds 30,000, has asked Jim Sharples, Chief Constable of Merseyside, to draft measures to improve community relations and respond to the widespread complaint that individuals who contact the police receive little or no information about the outcome of their case.
Authority members say that senior police officers have tried to improve relations with the black community. But the enlightenment of senior ranks has not percolated through a force, which, in 1983, was criticised in an academic report for 'a real gap between the top and bottom'.
Richard Kinsey, an Edinburgh criminologist, calculated that an average of only 95 officers from a force of 4,600 would be 'uncommitted' at any one time and available to answer emergency calls from a population of 1.5 million.
The poll shows that a quick- response police force is a greater priority for residents in areas such as Granby, who are critical of the force, than in more affluent districts, where more people are satisfied with the police.