More about this area

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The force says...

The force polices 1,844 square miles of moorland, farmland, coastline, holiday resorts, market towns and cities including Bath and Bristol, one of England’s eight core cities. It is intersected by the M4 and M5, major rail routes to Wales and the South West, and home to Bristol International Airport and Bristol Port, Britain’s most centrally located deep sea port. Glastonbury Festival, Europe’s largest music festival, and Badminton Horse Trials are two of the force’s most significant events.

A diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.65 million, swelled by a large student population and tourists, brings challenges in policing, with pockets of substantial wealth contrasting deprived localities and communities. Ensuring equality of access to policing for all and achieving a diverse and representative workforce are priorities for the force.

Demand grows ever more complex. In the year to December 2016, better recording processes saw large increases across all crime types; total crime rose by nearly 24%, domestic abuse by 35%, rape by 28%, hate based crime by 53% and missing person reports by 30%. A diverse mix of drug crime, organised crime groups and cross-border criminality alongside rural crime presents additional policing challenges.

Ground-breaking work on predictive analytics and digital technology is allowing the force to take a fresh approach in prioritising and deploying resources, based on risk, threat and harm to victims and the wider community. The force collaborates extensively with partners and other forces across the south west and is the lead force for CTIU.

Since 1 April 2010, full time equivalent police officers numbers have dropped by more than 450 to 2,675. Today the total number of police officers and staff is 4,975 including 357 police community support officers. Our revenue budget for 2017/18 is £277.3m; we have seen a reduction in funding of £70million since the 2010 CSR.

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

HMIC says...

Avon and Somerset Constabulary provides policing services to the areas of Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The police force area covers 1,844 square miles with approximately 103 miles of coastline in the south west of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Avon and Somerset is generally affluent. Around 1.7 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the cities of Bristol and Bath and the towns of Weston-super-Mare, Taunton and Yeovil. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area 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 4,456 OAs in Avon and Somerset with an average size of 91 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (61 percent) of OAs in Avon and Somerset are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (14 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Bristol and Bath 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. Avon and Somerset has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £241,983 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Avon and Somerset has 0.7 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 23.0 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 6.9 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are areas of affluence and high house prices, with a very small proportion of lower value housing and deprivation.

The demands for police services are not the same in every area of England and Wales.  Our analysis has revealed that the socio-demographic characteristics of an area influence the demands for police services in that area.

In every police force, there is a concentration of predicted demands in a small number of its OAs. Taking England and Wales as a whole the most challenging 1,811 (1 percent) of these account for 10.8 percent of all the predicted incidents.  We have designated these areas of very high challenge and found that they are characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising or travelling in the area.  Features which both cause and/or indicated a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises, including licensed premises, fast food premises, public transport and social deprivation.  In some areas, these features are in combination.

Some 2.2 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Avon and Somerset. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 7.8 percent of Avon and Somerset’s predicted incidents, and these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 0.7 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Avon and Somerset:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents 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 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;
  • the proportion of OAs that are very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance at incidents 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 at crimes 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 Avon and Somerset we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 4,456 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.

Avon and Somerset has 164 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 19 miles (longest 76 miles and shortest 0.6 miles) and the average travel time of 37 minutes from the centre of the force to each OA are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Avon and Somerset 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 Avon and Somerset 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.