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The force says...

North Yorkshire is England’s largest policing county. Covering a vast rural geography, whilst also meeting urban challenges, requires careful deployment of resources, and adds to the cost of policing.

As part of its strategy to reduce costs whilst improving service, the force has invested £10m in technology to enhance efficiency, and is engaged in Evolve – a programme of strategic collaboration with Cleveland and Durham police.

North Yorkshire has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. During 2014/15 there were 179,057 calls for service and 34,646 recorded crimes. The service is highly victim-focused and uses THRIVE (threat, harm, risk, investigative opportunity, victim vulnerability and engagement) to determine the appropriate policing response.

The rural geography partly determines the pattern of demand. As well as “rural crimes” (farm crime, oil or metal theft, livestock rustling), forty percent of the county falls within the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks. This brings large numbers of seasonal visitors and transient workers, and while tourism boosts the rural economy, it also creates increases the demands with regard to road safety, vehicle crime, burglary and anti-social behaviour.

Nonetheless, North Yorkshire also contains some urban concentrations (York and Scarborough) with a vibrant night-time economy which brings city-type challenges.

North Yorkshire borders on seven other counties with a high crime rate per 1,000 population. It is dissected by major arterial routes and has a road network of more than 6,000 miles (one of the country’s largest). This makes North Yorkshire particularly vulnerable to cross-border criminality, and almost 20 percent of all offenders are resident outside of the borders. Technology and cross-force collaboration are therefore key to tackling crime and the force has invested in Automatic Number Plate Technology as part of a wider strategy to disrupt cross-border criminal behaviour.

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

HMIC says...

North Yorkshire Police provides policing services to the county of North Yorkshire. The police force area covers 3,208 square miles with approximately 55 miles of coastline in the north of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, North Yorkshire is generally affluent. Around 0.8 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. Its distinct urban areas include the coastal towns of Scarborough and Whitby as well as the city of York. 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 includes major rail stations.

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 2,691 OAs in North Yorkshire with an average size of 309 hectares which is much bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the almost half (45 percent) of the OAs in North Yorkshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizable proportion (28 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating rural nature of the area. The smallest OAs are concentrated in York and the numerous towns on North Yorkshire 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. North Yorkshire has a median house price of £210,388 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 77 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 North Yorkshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 17 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.2 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 North Yorkshire:

  • 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 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 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 North Yorkshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,691 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.

North Yorkshire has 224 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 24 miles (longest 76 miles and shortest 0.16 miles) and the average travel time of 45 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and of North Yorkshire 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 North Yorkshire 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.