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The force says...

Cumbria is the fourth largest police force area and is geographically isolated being the furthest north west force in the country. 99 percent of its area is classified as rural with only one city and five major towns. Much of the county is mountainous and it contains every peak in England over 3,000 feet within the largest national park – Lake District (885 square miles). It covers part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, has three major areas of natural beauty and a 150-mile coastline. Topography and rurality makes the county vulnerable to natural and other disasters – there have been three major floods in the past 10 years.

The population is small (498,000) and sparse, but visitors swell this population every year – 41.5 million in 2014/15, increasing police calls for service by an average 12% each week from May to October.

There are 3 major arterial routes linking areas of high criminality outside of its borders, 5,042 miles of road and 19% of demand is traffic related.

Cumbria has 29 specific areas in the top 10% most deprived lower layer super output areas. Alcohol-related harm maps onto these areas and Cumbria benchmarks significantly worse than average for factors including violent crime and deaths from traffic accidents.

Cumbria has a large and growing nuclear industry, resulting in a range of operational threats that will grow over time.

Compared to previous years, incidents and crimes are more complex and time consuming to deal with – of 107,000 calls for service, 22% were crime related and 38% public safety related. In line with national trends, violent crime has increased by 26% and sexual offences, including historic cases, have risen by 34%. The Constabulary works with county, districts and other agencies to prevent harm.

Since 2010, the workforce is 29% smaller (39% in back office functions) and £20 million savings have been delivered.

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

HMIC says...

Cumbria Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cumbria. The police force area covers 2,613 square miles with approximately 200 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some very affluent areas, Cumbria generally has a high level of poverty. Around 0.5 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. It has small, distinct urban areas that include the city of Carlisle, and the towns of Barrow-in-Furness, Workington and Penrith. The resident population is increased by university students and by the very large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations and sea ports.

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 1,537 OAs in Cumbria with an average size of 395 hectares which is much bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While many (44 percent) of the OAs in Cumbria are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a quarter (26 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the largely rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Carlisle and the numerous towns with the largest spread across the extensive more sparsely populated rural and mountainous 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. Cumbria has a median house price of £157,069 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 103 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting marked differences between the areas of affluence and poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Cumbria, one percent of the OAs accounts for 16 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.1 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 Cumbria:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of crime is broadly in line with 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 broadly in line with the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of Cumbria we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 1,537 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.

Cumbria has 310 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 33 miles (longest 59 miles and shortest 4.7 miles) and the average travel time of 54 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and topography of Cumbria and the nature of its roads.

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 Cumbria 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.