More about this area

The logo of Hertfordshire Constabulary

The force says...

Hertfordshire police area covers 634 square miles, 70% of the county is designated as rural, with four centres of population with over 50,000 residents: Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Stevenage and Watford. The standard of living is mostly high, with low unemployment and residents are generally healthy, well-educated and well paid, however there are areas of deprivation and social exclusion. The population of 1.14m has grown 9% in the last 10 years and expected to increase by a further 80,000 by 2021, making Hertfordshire one of the most densely populated counties in England. 12.4% are from minority ethnic backgrounds and 92,000 foreign nationals.

The constabulary’s 2014/15 budget is £192m, down 8.5% since 2010, of which £159m is currently spent on staff, which comprises 1,854 police officers, 211 police community support officers, 1,288 police staff and 367 Specials; an overall reduction of 16% since 2010.

The constabulary maintains a strong local policing focus through ten Community Safety Partnerships aligned to local authority areas, each with dedicated neighbourhood, local response and crime teams, supported by inter-agency partnerships and centralised specialist support. This is sustained and enabled by an effective strategic alliance with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire police forces, which maintains protective services and is central to achieving savings plans to 2020.

Reflecting national trends, the level of recorded crime has increased by 11% in 2014/15. Predominantly attributed to violent crime and sexual offences (both historic and recent), this rise is considered to be the result of increased victim confidence and improvements made to ensure robust and accurate crime recording.

Keeping people safe (safeguarding), in particular those who are vulnerable, remains the force priority, reflected in the increased resourcing of the force’s Safeguarding Command and partnerships to meet the increasing challenges linked to vulnerability and repeat victimisation and effectively tackle new and emerging crime types.

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

HMIC says...

Hertfordshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Hertfordshire. The police force area covers 634 square miles in the south east of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Hertfordshire is generally affluent. Around 1.1 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of St Albans, as well as the towns of Watford and Stevenage. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 12 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes a major rail station.

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 3,516 OAs in Hertfordshire with an average size of 47 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (63 percent) of OAs in Hertfordshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (8 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Watford, St Albans and the many other towns of Hertfordshire 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. Hertfordshire has a median house price of £325,722 which is higher 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 93 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 Hertfordshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 14 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 Hertfordshire:

  • 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 lower 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 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 Hertfordshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 3,516 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.

Hertfordshire has 117 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 13 miles (longest 32 miles and shortest 0.8 miles) and the average travel time of 21 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Hertfordshire 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 Hertfordshire 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.