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The force says...

Kent Police serves a population of approximately 1.8 million people across a large geographic area consisting of multiple towns, some bordering London, rural areas and coastal towns spread around its 343 mile coastline. The county consists of a mixture of wealthy communities coexisting alongside areas of acute deprivation.

Ambitious development plans exist; the new Ebbsfleet garden city will see the development of 15,000 new homes. London Paramount is developing a theme park estimated to attract 40,000 visitors per day.

Kent is the UK’s gateway to Europe; approximately 34 million passengers move through Kent annually. Freight vehicle movements alone average 10,000 per day along the second largest motorway network in the UK.

Kent’s proximity to Europe presents additional challenges; transient organised criminality including terrorism, drugs importation, people trafficking; slavery, economic migrants and asylum seekers are key issues for Kent. UK cross border activity presents further demand, particularly London based gangs establishing themselves in several Kent towns.

Kent Police has a matured collaboration arrangement with Essex Police to provide joint serious crime investigation, and support services. We also work closely with our partners, at a county, unitary and district level, tackling adult and children safeguarding including child sexual exploitation and established Community Safety Partnerships responding to local crime and disorder.

In 2014/15 the force dealt with 827,826 calls for service and recorded 110,287 crimes, an increase in crime of 1.3% compared to 2013/14. This increase must be set against the accurate recording processes in place in Kent. The force has observed year on year reductions in recorded crime for the previous 10 years. Crime rates in have fallen by 9% over the last decade.

Kent Police has an establishment of 3,281.4 FTE officers, supported by 2,521 FTE staff (this is inclusive of all police community support officers, police staff employees, special constables and volunteers).

Kent Police has a budget of £305 million (£274 million net) (Capital Grant 2014/5 = £196.5m).

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

HMIC says...

Kent Police provides policing services to the areas of Kent and Medway. The police force area covers 1,443 square miles with approximately 340 miles of coastline in the south east of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Kent is generally affluent. Around 1.8 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Canterbury as well as the towns of Maidstone, Gravesend, Ashford, Margate, Dartford and Folkestone. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations, the channel tunnel, and major 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 5,475 OAs in Kent with an average size of 68 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (60 percent) of OAs in Kent 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 numerous towns of Kent 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. Kent has a median house price of £225,561 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 an 89 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 Kent, one percent of the OAs accounts for 13 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 Kent:

  • 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 Kent we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,475 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.

Kent has 338 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 23 miles (longest 51 miles and shortest 1.2 miles) and the average travel time of 38 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Kent 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 Kent 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.