More about this area

The logo of Essex Police

The force says...

Essex covers 1,420 square miles with a 400-mile coastline. The county comprises 75% agricultural land, but with a number of significant and spread out major urban conurbations, including Basildon, Thurrock and Southend. The population of Essex is 1.79 million with 5.6% of residents of minority ethnic origin.

Stansted Airport (the UK’s fourth busiest) handled 23.2 million passengers in 2015/16 whilst approximately 0.9 million travelled through Southend Airport.

The London Gateway port is part of the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure, and the port of Harwich provides passenger and freight links to Scandinavia and Benelux countries.

Essex Police has 1.67 officers per 1,000 head of population and in the year to March 2016 responded to almost a million calls; a quarter of which were emergency calls.

Essex is a diverse county with significant variation in geography, infrastructure, accessibility, and socio-economic factors. These require a tailored policing response which increases the complexity of policing the county.

There is a high and increasing demand for police services due to both the volume of crime and incidents, and their severity. In 2015/16 crime increased by more than the average of other forces nationally (+2.6%) with the level of funding the force receives failing to match the disproportionate volume of complex, high harm crime. While the force is one of the most efficient nationally with the lowest cost of policing to the taxpayer, limited funds increase the challenge of policing increasingly complex demands.

Essex Police has an ambitious transformation programme which has identified opportunities to maximise limited resources and improve service quality. Examples include the use of mobile devices and technology, working with partners to support local communities and collaborating with other forces. The Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner are taking a keen interest in the ongoing review of the police funding formula.

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

HMIC says...

Essex Police provides policing services to the county of Essex. The police force area covers 1,417 square miles with approximately 400 miles of coastline in the south east of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Essex is generally affluent. Around 1.8 million people mainly live in the urban centres that include the city of Chelmsford, as well as the towns of Clacton-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea and Harlow. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure also includes 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 5,666 OAs in Essex with an average size of 65 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (64 percent) of OAs in Essex 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 Chelmsford and numerous small towns throughout Essex 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. Essex has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £281,500 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Essex has 0.6 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 30.5 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 9.3 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are areas of affluence and high house price, 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 4.0 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Essex. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 18.6 percent of Essex’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 3.8 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Essex:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents is higher 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 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 Essex we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,666 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.

Essex has 154 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 18 miles (longest 55 miles and shortest 1 mile) and the average travel time of 32 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, variety and complexity of Essex 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 Essex 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.