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The force says...

Northamptonshire’s 971 square miles are home to 0.71 million people across a blend of rural and urban communities. The county is characterised by significant population growth of 11% from 2001-2012 – a higher rate than the national and regional average. Further strong population increases are forecast and policing demand continues to rise accordingly. For example, the force deals with more 999 calls and investigates around 25% more victim-based crimes per ‘frontline’ officer than comparable constabularies.

Northamptonshire Police is a low-spend force with a strong track record of cost-reduction having delivered £22.9m of savings between 2010-2015. While the workforce has reduced overall by 18% since 2010, officer numbers have been sustained at 1,220.

The force is committed to achieving further savings and meeting the challenge of protecting people from violence and other harms.

Key organisational and operational developments include:

  • Designing a new Service Delivery Model to ensure resources optimally meet demand.
  • Exploring a ‘strategic alliance’ with other East Midlands forces to enhance operational capabilities and release significant savings.
  • Building capacity through special constables/volunteers (Northamptonshire has already achieved the highest per capita ratio of Specials of any county and benefits from around 700 volunteers and 250 cadets).
  • Deepening integration with the local Fire Service.
  • The College of Policing has identified that “there is now a clear and tangible focus upon protecting vulnerable people and CSE” and that Northants’ arrangements represent “a promising model of multi-agency working”.
  • Violence is being tackled through a broad range of evidence-based interventions. Partners are working to shape a complementary longer-term approach that recasts violence as a public health concern.
  • The force has restructured its investigative approach to further improve the investigation of domestic abuse and protection of victims.

Together with partners, the force is securely focused on fulfilling the police and crime commissioner’s vision for Northamptonshire to become the “safest place in England”.

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

HMIC says...

Northamptonshire Police provides policing services to the county of Northamptonshire. The police force area covers 913 square miles in the east midlands of England. Although there are some more affluent areas, Northamptonshire has a high level of poverty. Around 0.7 million people mainly live in the urban centres which includes Northampton. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year.

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 2,231 OAs in Northamptonshire with an average size of 106 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (58 percent) of OAs in Northamptonshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (16 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Northampton 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. Northamptonshire has a median house price of £174,352 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 97 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 Northamptonshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 14 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 Northamptonshire:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of crime is lower 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 lower 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 lower than the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of Northamptonshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,231 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.

Northamptonshire has 240 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 11 miles (longest 39 miles and shortest 1.1 miles) and the average travel time of 18 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Northamptonshire 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 Northamptonshire 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.