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The force says...

Cumbria is the fourth largest police force area and is geographically isolated being the furthest north west force in the country. Some 98% of its area is rural with only one city and five major towns. Much of the county is mountainous and it contains the country’s largest national park – Lake District (885 square miles), as well as having a 150-mile coastline. Topography and rurality makes the county vulnerable to natural and other disasters – with three major floods in the past 10 years.

Cumbria hosts Appleby Fair, the largest travellers’ gathering in Europe and several major summer festivals. The population is small (498,000) and sparse, but visitors swell this population every year, increasing police calls for service by an average 12% each week from May to October. It has areas of significant deprivation, where the police and partners formally work together, often co-located, to improve the lives of residents. Demand has changed significantly. During 2016, 410,000 telephone calls were received, which translated into 98,000 calls for service – 38% were public safety incidents,  23% crime related and 19% traffic related, which is an increase of  5%, 5% and 2% respectively since 2010. On average, every week the force deals with 93 domestic violence incidents and 65 mental health related incidents. Missing person incidents have increased threefold over the past 3 years to 2,272 in 2016. The change in demand has informed our new operating model where the public speak directly to an experienced police officer on the phone, solving the issue as early as possible, reducing deployment and freeing up time for the more complex incidents and crime investigations.

Since 2010, the workforce has reduced by 19% and £22 million has been saved from the Constabulary’s revenue budget.

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

HMIC says...

Cumbria Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cumbria. The police force area covers 2,613 square miles with approximately 200 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some very affluent areas, Cumbria generally has a high level of poverty. Around 0.5 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. It has small, distinct urban areas that include the city of Carlisle, and the towns of Barrow-in-Furness, Workington and Penrith. The resident population is increased by university students and by the very large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations and 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 1,537 OAs in Cumbria with an average size of 395 hectares which is much bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While many (44 percent) of the OAs in Cumbria are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a quarter (26 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the largely rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Carlisle and the numerous towns with the largest spread across the extensive more sparsely populated rural and mountainous 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. Cumbria has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £145,354 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Cumbria has 24.4 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 6.7 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 1.0 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are large areas of low value housing and deprivation, with some small affluent areas of more expensive housing.

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 0.7 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Cumbria. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 11.5 percent of Cumbria’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 0.1 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Cumbria:

  • 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 higher 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 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 Cumbria we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 1,537 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.

Cumbria has 193 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 33 miles (longest 59 miles and shortest 4.7 miles) and the average travel time of 54 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 and topography of Cumbria 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 Cumbria 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.