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The force says...

Merseyside Police serves a diverse population of around 1.5 million people in a mix of urban and rural locations. The resident population is swelled throughout the year by a large student population and visitors to the region’s elite sporting events, conference and exhibition centres, major retail outlets and leisure facilities.

Despite considerable investment and regeneration, there remain significant areas of deprivation across the county. All five local authorities are amongst the most deprived in England and Wales. Deprivation, coupled with high unemployment, is a significant factor in the underlying causes of criminality within the region. These factors contribute towards varied and complex policing challenges which are reflected in the force priorities:

  • Prevent crime and anti social behaviour;
  • Provide a visible and accessible neighbourhood policing style;
  • Tackle serious and organised crime; and
  • Support victims, protect vulnerable people and maintain public safety.

On average, the force deals with over 1.4 million calls for service per year of which approximately 250,000 are emergency calls – the second highest volume of any force in the UK. To set this in context, on a typical day there is approximately one officer on duty for every 1,184 people living in the force area. Approximately 254 crimes are reported and 1,234 incidents recorded. In addition, approximately 800 organised crime group, 1,300 sex offenders and 135 vulnerable person referrals are made per day. We will continue to work with our partners to better manage the demands placed upon us and allocate resources in accordance with threat, harm and risk.

The gross budget for 2015/16 is £322.935 million. Since 2010, the budget has reduced by 17% (£63.8 million). This has resulted in a much reduced workforce – 1,285 fewer posts (722 police officers, 448 police staff and 115 PCSOs) – equivalent to an 18% reduction in the overall workforce.

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

HMIC says...

Merseyside Police provides policing services to the metropolitan area of Merseyside. The police force area covers 250 square miles with approximately 65 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some more affluent areas, Merseyside has a high level of poverty. Around 1.4 million people live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the conurbation that includes the city of Liverpool and surrounding towns. The resident population is increased by very large number of university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, an airport and a major sea port.

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 4,676 OAs in Merseyside with an average size of 14 hectares which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the vast majority (79 percent) of OAs in Merseyside are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a very much smaller proportion (2 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the urban conurbation with few, 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. Merseyside has a median house price of £123,864 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 99 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are some areas of affluence as well as poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Merseyside, one percent of the OAs accounts for 15 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 4.3 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 Merseyside:

  • 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 Merseyside we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 4,676 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.

Merseyside has 64 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 7 miles (longest 24 miles and shortest 0.3 miles) and the average travel time of 15 minutes are much lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Merseyside 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 Merseyside 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.