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The force says...

Hertfordshire police area covers 634 square miles, 70% of the county is designated as rural, whilst four centres of population have over 50,000 residents: Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Stevenage and Watford. The standard of living is mostly high, with low unemployment and residents are generally healthy, well-educated and well paid, however there are areas of deprivation and social exclusion. The population of 1.17m continues to increase, rapidly rising from 1.02m in 2001. Some 19.2% of Hertfordshire residents are from ethnic minority groups.

The constabulary’s 2016/17 budget is £192m, a fall of 8.5% since 2010, of which £162m is currently spent on staff. The workforce comprises 1,906 police officers, 229 police community support officers, 1,440 police staff and 258 Special Constables.

The constabulary maintains a strong local policing focus through ten Community Safety Partnerships aligned to local authority areas. Each has dedicated neighbourhood, local response and crime teams, supported by inter-agency partnerships and centralised specialist support. There is significant collaboration, chiefly through its strategic alliance with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire police forces, which provides protective services and a range of other operational and support functions that increase effectiveness and efficiency.

The level of recorded crime has reflected national trends increasing by 12.3% in 2015/16, with the increases predominantly attributed to reports of assaults, harassment and domestic abuse. This rise is considered to be the result of increased victim confidence and improvements made to ensure robust and accurate crime recording.

Keeping people safe through safeguarding, in particular those who are vulnerable, remains a key priority. The constabulary has worked with partner agencies to further strengthen this area during the last year including increasing the resourcing of the constabulary’s safeguarding command. This provides the ability to meet increasing challenges linked to vulnerability and repeat victimisation and effectively tackle new and emerging crime types.

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

HMIC says...

Hertfordshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Hertfordshire. The police force area covers 634 square miles in the south east of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Hertfordshire is generally affluent. Around 1.2 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of St Albans, as well as the towns of Watford and Stevenage. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 12 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes a major rail station.

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 3,516 OAs in Hertfordshire with an average size of 47 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (63 percent) of OAs in Hertfordshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (8 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Watford, St Albans and the many other towns of Hertfordshire 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. Hertfordshire has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £381,792 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). None of Hertfordshire’s OAs are within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 60.0 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 24.3 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are very large areas of acute 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 1.3 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Hertfordshire. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 6.5 percent of Hertfordshire’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 1.5 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Hertfordshire:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents 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 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;
  • 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 Hertfordshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 3,516 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.

Hertfordshire has 73 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 13 miles (longest 32 miles and shortest 0.8 miles) and the average travel time of 21 minutes from the centre of the force to each OA are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Hertfordshire 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 Hertfordshire 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.