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The force says...

South Yorkshire police force area covers 1,552 square kilometres. This is a mixture of rural and urban areas with the population being mainly in the city of Sheffield (one of the 8 largest regional cities in England), and the towns of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. South Yorkshire has a population of 1,365,847; a rise of 16% since 2012, with 9.3% from a minority ethnic background. South Yorkshire is 46% poorer than the national average and is one of the most economically deprived areas of Western Europe attracting investment from the European Regional Development fund.

The force has fifteen local policing teams, organised along local authority boundaries into the four local policing units of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. Key specialist staff are employed within its investigative, operational support, and corporate services departments. The force’s information systems and human resources departments are shared with Humberside Police.

As of June 2015 recorded crime has risen by 3% compared to the previous 12 months. These rises have predominately been attributable to violence, and sexual crimes which relate to both recent and historic offences reflecting a national increase. Vulnerability is a priority and the force is proactively looking at how it deals with areas such as child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse, gang related violence and incidents of domestic abuse. The legacy of the CSE revelations and the Hillsborough inquiry continue to impact upon the force with numerous large-scale protests challenging the force’s ability to resource them.

The workforce has reduced by 13% since 2011 and the operating budget is some £53 million less for the same period. The force demonstrates robust financial management with a balanced budget for 2015/16. The challenges for the force include addressing the complex demands of today, planning for the future and the commitment to deal with the legacies of the past.

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

HMIC says...

South Yorkshire Police provides policing services to the county of South Yorkshire. The police force area covers 599 square miles in the north of England. Although there are a small number of affluent areas, South Yorkshire has a high level of poverty. Around 1.4 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Sheffield and the towns of Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations and an airport.

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 4,411 OAs in South Yorkshire with an average size of 35 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (68 percent) of OAs in South Yorkshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (5 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Sheffield and the towns of South Yorkshire, 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. South Yorkshire has a median house price of £123,067 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 an 85 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are both some areas of affluence as well as poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In South Yorkshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 15 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 1.2 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 South 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 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 South Yorkshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 4,411 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.

South Yorkshire has 215 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 10 miles (longest 32 miles and shortest 0.1 miles) and the average travel time of 22 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of South 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 South 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.