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The force says...

Cheshire Constabulary serves a population of over one million people across a large geographic area; from rural expanses to areas of extensive heavy industry and urban areas including Chester and Warrington with their vibrant daytime and night-time economies. The county has ambitious plans to improve the infrastructure to support significant economic development including the Mersey Gateway Project and Crewe HS2 Superhub.

Cheshire has challenges policing diverse areas, with pockets of wealth contrasting with localities amongst the most deprived in the country. It is home to a large student population as both the University of Chester and Manchester Metropolitan University have major campuses in the county.

There are four local authority areas with partnership working in response to adult and children safeguarding including child sexual exploitation and Community Safety Partnerships responding to local crime and disorder.

As well as its own policing challenges, Cheshire shares borders with two major metropolitan areas; Manchester and Liverpool and the international airports that serve these cities are within close proximity. More than 200 miles of motorway and the West Coast Mainline railways run through the county.

This diverse mix poses a variety of policing challenges from tackling alcohol related crime, drug crime, organised crime groups and cross-border criminality to the prevention and investigation of rural, wildlife and heritage crime.

In 2014/15 the Force dealt with 362,998 calls for service and recorded 53,229 crimes, a reduction in crime of 4.1% compared to 2013/14. Cheshire has observed year on year reductions in recorded crime for the previous 10 years. Crime rates in Cheshire have fallen by 44% over the last decade.

Policing in Cheshire is delivered by over 4,000 men and women with 1983 police officers supported by police community support officers, special constables, volunteers and police staff. Cheshire Constabulary has a budget of £189 million (£162 million net).

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

HMIC says...

Cheshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cheshire. The police force area covers 905 square miles and a coastline of approximately 67 miles in the north west of England. Although there are some areas of marked affluence, Cheshire is generally poor. Around one million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Chester and the towns of Warrington, Crewe and Macclesfield. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations.

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 3,418 OAs in Cheshire with an average size of 69 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (58 percent) of OAs in Cheshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (12 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Chester, Warrington and other towns, 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. Cheshire has a median house price of £188,214 which is lower than 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 115 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are both very affluent and poor areas.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Cheshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 17 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.5 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 Cheshire:

  • 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 higher than 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 Cheshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 3,418 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.

Cheshire has 165 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 16 miles (longest 35 miles and shortest 0.3 miles) and the average travel time of 30 minutes are in line with the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes.

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 Cheshire 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.