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The force says...

Cambridgeshire Constabulary covers 1,309 square miles. The County has a varied geography from sparsely populated rural communities to market towns and the cities of Ely, Peterborough and Cambridge. Cambridgeshire has a population of 804,900; a rise of 13 percent compared with 10 years ago. Cambridgeshire continues to be one of the fastest growing counties with an expected population growth of a further 25 percent by 2031.

Crime reduced in Cambridgeshire by 8.4% between 2010/11 – 2014/15. Over the last year there have been significant increases in violence and serious sexual offences (recent and historical) in line with the national trend. Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a clear mission to protect the vulnerable with a particular drive to attack those criminals who prey on them. The constabulary proactively encourages increased reporting of crime by victims through ensuring trust and confidence in the police. Emerging crime threats include human trafficking, modern day slavery, child sexual exploitation and cyber crime placing further complex investigative and safeguarding demands on the constabulary. We are developing new and innovative ways to target these offenders and protect victims.

The constabulary delivers a good service to the public despite being one of the lowest cost forces, 44p per person per day (national average: 55p). The workforce has reduced by 16% since 2010 with a reduced operating budget of £16.5m. This imperative to increase efficiency whilst maintaining resilience has led to the development of a pioneering collaboration with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This is proving successful, leading to increased capacity at a lower cost that still meets the local needs.

The constabulary is developing rapidly and prides itself on working to the key values of respect, openness, integrity and trust. The Force is an innovator and is proud to be at the heart of introducing new technologies and developing evidence based policing tactics.

Disclaimer: the above statement has been prepared by Cambridgeshire Constabulary. The views and information in it are not necessarily those of HMICFRS.

HMIC says...

Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cambridgeshire. The police force area covers 1,309 square miles with in the east of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Cambridgeshire is generally affluent. Around 0.8 million people mainly live the urban centres which include the cities of Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough. This resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by students who study in the area’s universities and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year.

England and Wales is made up of over 181,000 small areas known as census output areas (OAs). These have been defined by the Office for National Statistics to group together people with similar characteristics and to include, on average, 125 households. The size of the geographical area covered by each OA varies according to the population density in different parts of the country. The largest OA in England and Wales covers 20,166 hectares, and the smallest less than 0.02 hectares. A football pitch is approximately 0.75 of a hectare.

There are 2,541 OAs in Cambridgeshire with an average size of 133 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (51 percent) of OAs in Cambridgeshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizable smaller proportion (19 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) reflecting the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Cambridge and Peterborough with the largest spread across the more sparsely populated rural areas.

The advantage of analysis at output area level is that it supports a people-centred approach. Differences in the socio-economic characteristics of people who live in different OAs lead to different behaviours, including the use of public services. These differences are reflected in the information that is collected in large data sets such as the census, the Ordnance Survey (OS) point of interest data and other quasi-economic sources that have been used in this analysis.

HMIC has been working with the London School of Economics to use econometric techniques to statistically model and predict the level of reactive demands for police services in each OA in England and Wales. Using police incident data and several thousand characteristics (variables) drawn from the census data, OS point of interest data and other smaller data sets for each OA, it has been possible to predict the number of incidents for each OA and determine how challenging each OA is likely to be to police. We have also used the house prices from the Land Registry as a proxy indicator of wealth. Cambridgeshire has a median house price of £244,367 which is similar to the median of England and Wales (£254,549). Excluding the least expensive ten percent and the most expensive ten percent of house prices, there is a 99 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are both areas of affluence and poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Cambridgeshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 15 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.3 percent of the total force area.

A concentration of predicted demands in a small number of OAs is a feature of every police force. We have designated these OAs (approximately 1,800 throughout England and Wales) as a very high challenge to police. These areas of very high challenge are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both.

Within Cambridgeshire:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of crime is higher than the national level of one percent;
  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of anti-social behaviour is broadly in line with the national level of one percent; and
  • the proportion of OAs that are very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance is higher than the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of Cambridgeshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,541 OAs. These calculations of distance and time are based on using the road network under normal driving conditions and speeds, and indicate the size of the area and the quality of its road network.

Cambridgeshire has 255 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 21 miles (longest 41 miles and shortest 1.2 miles) and the average travel time of 33 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and complexity of Cambridgeshire.

While the concentration of demands in a small number of locations (covering a very small area) may be helpful in focusing resources, it is not the totality of demand. The provision of services extends beyond those areas that are a very high challenge to police and includes the least challenging and most remote areas. The challenge of providing services throughout Cambridgeshire is a function of many things including the size and topography of the area, the road network and how congested the roads are. These considerations influence how police resources are organised and managed – for example, where police officers are based and their working patterns.