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The force says...

Suffolk Constabulary polices a population of over 700,000 people with 1,095.5 police officers (full time equivalent).

It comprises seven local authorities, covering a county that is largely rural but home to a number of vibrant urban areas. It has a coastline which stretches from Lowestoft to Felixstowe (the largest container port in Europe), four military bases and a nuclear power station.

The population has grown by 10.5% over the last 13 years. Minority ethnic communities make up less than 5% of the population.

The constabulary is a small force, fifth lowest in the country for officer numbers per 1,000 head of population.

The workforce has reduced by over 11% in the last five years and currently stands at 2,178.

The net revenue budget for policing in 2016/17 is £112.9 million. Since 2010, £20.8 million has been identified in savings, £12.4 million of which has been achieved through collaboration. Further collaborative arrangements are in place with other public sector partners.

The financial implications of the Spending Review 2015, including the proposal to increase the precept by just less than 2% per annum over the period of the Medium Term Financial Plan, (2016/17 to 2019/20) have resulted in the need to identify savings of £5.7 million by the end of 2019/20.

Savings of £5.0 million are planned to be delivered in 2016/17 (£2.7 million from the Suffolk Local Policing Review and £1.5 million from joint collaboration with Norfolk) which will help fund further investment in police officers and staff in agreed priority areas.

The constabulary receives over 250,000 calls for service each year; just under 80,000 of these are 999 emergencies. Around 40,000 crimes are recorded each year which is 32% lower than 10 years ago. The constabulary’s strategic assessment outlines a departure from ‘traditional crime’ to an emphasis on vulnerability, specialist areas such as cyber-enabled crime, sexual offences and domestic abuse.

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

HMIC says...

Suffolk Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Suffolk. The police force area covers 1,467 square miles with approximately 140 miles of coastline in East Anglia. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Suffolk is generally affluent. Around 0.7 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. It has a small number of distinct urban areas that include the towns of Ipswich and Lowestoft. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major 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 2,454 OAs in Suffolk with an average size of 155 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the almost half (47 percent) of OAs in Suffolk are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizable proportion (24 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Ipswich and Lowestoft 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. Suffolk has a median house price of £215,173 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 81 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 Suffolk, one percent of the OAs accounts for 12 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.1 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 Suffolk:

  • 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 Suffolk we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,454 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.

Suffolk has 163 miles of trunk roads; the average travel distance of 21 miles (longest 46 miles and shortest 1.1 miles) and the average travel time of 31 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Suffolk 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 Suffolk 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.