More about this area

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The force says...

Norfolk is the fifth largest county in England, a land area of 2,074 square miles and a 93 mile coastline. In mid-2014 Norfolk’s estimated population was 877,700 attracting further estimated 4.7 million visitors annually, with 51 crimes per 1,000 people which is below the national average crime rate of 63 per 1,000 population.

Although predominantly rural, 40% of the population live in the urban areas of Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Thetford, parts of which are within the top 10% of deprived areas nationally. Policing this landscape poses challenges to manage the differing risks and vulnerabilities.

Norfolk has a two tier local authority structure comprising of county and district councils. The constabulary is heavily engaged with Norfolk County Council’s restructuring plans, working closely with partners, to prevent and reduce harm to our communities.

The constabulary received 350,000 calls in 2014/15 recording a total of 44,175 crimes; a drop of 33% in recorded crime over the last decade in spite of a 1.3% increase on calls received.

The constabulary has increased focus on areas of threat, harm and risk, increasing the reporting of domestic abuse crimes by 38% from 3,589 crimes in 2013/14 to 4,956 in 2014/15 and has seen increased reporting of serious sexual offences, 38% up on the previous year; a trend seen nationally due to a combination of high-profile cases and increased confidence in reporting to police.

Norfolk Constabulary has a workforce of 1,540 officers, 172 police community support officers, 1,009 staff and 258 special constables.

Since 2010, Norfolk Constabulary will have made savings of nearly £21m by the end of 2015/16. The constabulary collaborates extensively, particularly with Suffolk Constabulary, but also other partners including Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services. Many services are now provided by collaborated units, which in itself has delivered £13m of the £21m overall savings.

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

HMIC says...

Norfolk Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Norfolk. The police force area covers 2,077 square miles with approximately 100 miles of coastline in East Anglia. Although there are some highly affluent areas, Norfolk has a high level of poverty. Around 0.9 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. Its distinct and generally small urban areas include the city of Norwich, as well as the towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes an airport 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 2,931 OAs in Norfolk with an average size of 183 hectares which is much bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While two fifths (43 percent) of OAs in Norfolk are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizable proportion (27 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Norwich and the numerous towns in Norfolk with the largest spread across the extensive 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. Norfolk has a median house price of £193,448 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 62 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 Norfolk, one percent of the OAs accounts for 14 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.3 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 Norfolk:

  • 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 Norfolk we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,931 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.

Norfolk has 183 miles trunk roads and the average travel distance of 19 miles (longest 48 miles and shortest 0.2 miles) is higher than the national averages of 17 miles. However, the average travel time of 26 minutes is lower than the national average of 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and complexity of Norfolk 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 Norfolk 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.