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The force says...

Lancashire, with a population of 1.45m and covering 1,000+ square miles, is a diverse mix of industrial towns and popular tourist destinations with 63m visitors annually and 37,000 students attending universities in Lancaster and Preston. There are pockets of severe social and economic deprivation, with three wards in the top 15 most deprived areas in England.

An ethnically diverse population (10% black, Asian and minority ethnic) is concentrated in Preston (20%) and Blackburn with Darwen (31%), which have growing young black, Asian and minority ethnic populations.

The force deals with 1.3m calls for service and records around 500,000 incidents and over 900,000 crimes per year. 23% of incidents require an emergency or immediate response.

The new approach to performance has shifted focus to high victim impact, ensuring high quality investigations are prioritised for the highest risk offenders & complex cases.

Organised crime groups present challenges across the force with recent high profile homicide convictions linked to active networks. The force has policed protests in relation to fracking, EDL, football and high-risk trials at Preston Crown Court.

Lancashire continues to identify cases of violent extremism and remains connected to Prevent activity in communities vulnerable to radicalisation.

Vulnerability is increasing both in terms of volume and complexity resulting in a 22.2% increase in all sexual offences and 24.3% in child sexual offences. Registered sex offenders increase year on year with 1,800 now managed locally. The multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) receives 43,000 police referrals each year.

Having delivered savings of £74m, to April 2016, from an original budget of £300 million in 2010, Lancashire Constabulary has reduced its workforce by 23% leaving 2,700 police officers and 2,000 police staff members.

The force has established a sophisticated Early Action model focused on reducing demand, preventing harm and developing social capital through local partnerships supported by neighbourhood teams.

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

HMIC says...

Lancashire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Lancashire. The police force area covers 1,187 square miles with approximately 100 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some highly affluent areas, Lancashire has a high level of poverty. Around 1.5 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Preston. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, air 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 5,017 OAs in Lancashire with an average size of 63 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (64 percent) of OAs in Lancashire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (9 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Preston and the numerous towns of Lancashire 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. Lancashire has a median house price of £127,606 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 101 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are areas of affluence as well as poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Lancashire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 16 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.7 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 Lancashire:

  • 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 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 Lancashire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,017 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.

Lancashire has 208 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 20 miles (longest 42 miles and shortest 2.4 miles) is higher than the national averages of 17 miles but the average travel time of 29 minutes are lower than the national average of 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Lancashire 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 Lancashire 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.