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The force says...

Serving the counties of East and West Sussex and the city of Brighton & Hove, millions of visitors, holidaymakers, students and seasonal workers swell the resident population of 1.63 million people, with 39 million passengers travelling through Gatwick Airport each year.

Urban areas, with their day and night-time economies and more sparsely populated rural areas present contrasting policing challenges from alcohol and drug related crime to investigation of wildlife crime.

Sussex Police receives the 14th highest volume of 999 calls nationally, but remains one of the safest places to live, work or visit. Crime reduced in Sussex by 3.6% between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

During 2015 there have been significant rises in serious sexual offences, hate crime, domestic abuse and violence against the person. The force has worked hard to encourage victims to report crime, improve crime reporting and allocate resources to investigate appropriately. Emerging crime threats (including child sexual exploitation and cyber) place further, complex investigative and safeguarding demands on the force.

The force’s portion of residents’ council tax bills is the fourth lowest nationally. Already a low-cost force (Sussex spending is £33m below the national force average) further funding reductions will impact heavily. Through cost saving programmes the workforce has reduced by 11% since 2010. It will reduce a further 20% (1,000) by 2019.

To deliver the priorities of the police and crime commissioner, the force is collaborating extensively, working more closely with partners and introducing transformational changes across the force including a new local policing model which will bring change to the way the force works to prevent crime, responds to calls and undertakes investigations.

The force has almost 2,700 police officers and 2,100 police staff, including police community support officers and a team of dedicated volunteers that includes over 400 special constables and around 180 police cadets.

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

HMIC says...

Sussex Police provides policing services to the areas of East, West and Mid Sussex. The police force area covers 1,460 square miles with approximately 150 miles of coastline in the south of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Sussex is generally affluent. Around 1.7 million people mainly live in the urban centres, especially along the south coast, which include the city of Brighton and the towns of Bognor Regis, Hastings, Hove, and Horsham. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, a major airport and 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 5,347 OAs in Sussex with an average size of 71 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (65 percent) of OAs in Sussex are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (11 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Brighton and the coastal towns, 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. Sussex has a median house price of £282,073 which is higher 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 84 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 Sussex, one percent of the OAs accounts for 14 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.6 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 Sussex:

  • 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 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 Sussex we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,347 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.

Sussex has 146 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 21 miles (longest 54 miles and shortest 0.7 miles) and the average travel time of 33 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and complexity of Sussex.

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 Sussex 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.