Sikh Federation (UK) once again expose dangers of general surveys trying to reach conclusions on minority communities like Sikhs

London – 2 December 2015

An article has appeared in the Guardian today titled: ’Only one-quarter of Britons believe legal system is fair’. It quotes that only ‘17% of the Sikh community said they trusted lawyers’ implying Sikhs have the lowest percentage for any ethnic or religious group. The Sikh Federation (UK) has contacted Hodge Jones & Allen and Patrick Allen, its senior partner who commissioned the report “Unjust Kingdom: UK Perceptions of the Legal and Justice System” released today, and whose response we have included below.

More than 2,100 people were interviewed by the research organisation Populus for the survey. The Guardian states: ‘Only 37% said they trusted the professionals working within the legal system, while 54% felt the justice system was inaccessible. Only 28% of the Afro-Caribbean community and 17% of the Sikh community said they trusted lawyers.’

The report itself states: ‘only 28% of the black community, 17% of the Sikh community and 20% of the Muslims surveyed’ believed that they could ‘trust legal professionals – in comparison to the national average of 37%.’ Whilst this statement is factually correct we believe that the report should also have pointed out the number of Sikhs in the survey was far too low to make any meaningful conclusion and unnecessarily draw attention to the minority Sikh community. The number of Sikhs surveyed is believed be less than 20, but Hodge Jones & Allen were unable to provide confirmation.

We do not believe Populus put a health warning alongside its analysis so Hodge Jones & Allen could reflect this in its report with regards to any comments about Sikhs. In turn it appears Hodge Jones & Allen therefore did not reflect this in its press release alongside the report when referring to Sikhs.

We have today asked a cross section of just over 200 Sikhs across the UK (probably ten times as many as Populus) if they ‘trust legal professionals’ and found 48% responded positively compared to the national average of 37%. Whilst our pulse survey has been conducted over the last six hours and is not scientific it does suggest Sikhs have far more confidence in the legal profession as we expected than that reported in the Hodge Jones & Allen survey conducted by Populus, although even this suggests around half do not trust legal professionals.

Earlier this year the Sikh Federation (UK) criticised a Survation poll of ethnic minorities for British Future on how they voted in the General Election as it reached a conclusion based on a sample of only 66 Sikh voters out of the 1,633 survey respondents.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Care must be taken to draw conclusions when surveys are used to comment specifically on a minority community like Sikhs. We are one of the most law-abiding communities in the country and also one of the most affluent suggesting the survey as far as Sikhs is concerned is totally unreliable due to the very small number of Sikhs surveyed. Drawing a conclusion using such a small subset from a survey is misleading and dangerous that could easily result in unintended consequences for a minority community like Sikhs.”

Hodge Jones & Allen commented:

“The aim of our report is to promote the need for justice for all. The question regarding trust in lawyers is intended to highlight that the legal sector itself must do more to break down the barriers – and that is it the system itself than needs to innovate and change – not to draw any specific conclusions about the people of the UK, whatever their background.”

“Populus have a reputation for integrity and strict adherence to the rules of the British Polling Council, which is why we selected them as our research partner. It polled 2,101 people at random and the data was weighted accordingly to ensure that the results was as representative as possible for the sample size requested.”

“Our intention was never to cause distress or offence, but to hold the legal profession itself to account and make it more accessible and less intimidating for all. We are grateful to the Sikh Federation (UK) for contacting us with their concerns.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

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