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The force says...

Lancashire has a population of 1.47m people, covers an area of 1,187 square miles, and is a diverse mixture of industrial towns and popular tourist destinations. The area attracts 63m visitors annually and over 45,000 students attend universities in Lancaster and Central Lancashire.

The county has an ethnically diverse population, concentrated in the urban areas of Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, and Hyndburn. There are pockets of severe social and economic deprivation, with 6 of the 14 local authority areas in Lancashire falling into the top 50 most deprived districts in England.

The force deals with over 1 million calls for service, records over 500,000 incidents, and deals with over 90,000 crimes per year, with 25% of incidents requiring an emergency or immediate response.

The constabulary focuses on a risk and threat approach to resourcing by prioritising high victim impact crimes, ensuring quality investigations, and targeting the highest risk offenders.

The force has policed protests in relation to fracking, far-right groups (e.g. the North West Infidels) and high-risk trials at Preston Crown Court, along with policing the county’s seven football league clubs.

Lancashire continues to identify cases of violent extremism and remains connected to Prevent activity in communities vulnerable to radicalisation.

Demands for service have seen an increase in vulnerability, both in terms of volume and complexity, including a 30% increase in all sexual offences, and 37% increase in child sexual offences. Registered sex offenders increase year on year with 1,969 now managed locally. The multi-agency safeguarding hub received over 52,000 police referrals last year, an increase of 22%.

Supporting Lancashire’s vision for 2020, the constabulary is adopting a transformational framework to support organisational development with a continued emphasis on developing Early Action. The constabulary focuses on delivering positive and sustainable outcomes for the public, preventing harm and developing social capital through partnerships and local policing teams.

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

HMIC says...

Lancashire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Lancashire. The police force area covers 1,187 square miles with approximately 100 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some highly affluent areas, Lancashire has a high level of poverty. Around 1.5 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Preston. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, air 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 5,017 OAs in Lancashire with an average size of 63 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (64 percent) of OAs in Lancashire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (9 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Preston and the numerous towns of Lancashire 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. Lancashire has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £133,167 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Lancashire has 27.3 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 4.5 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 1.4 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are large areas of lower value housing and deprivation, with a small proportion of acute affluence and high house prices.

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 5.0 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Lancashire. The highest challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 21.2 percent of Lancashire’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 2.4 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Lancashire:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents is very high compared 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 very high compared 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 very high compared 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 Lancashire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,017 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.

Lancashire has 137 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 20 miles (longest 42 miles and shortest 2.4 miles) from the centre of the force to each OA is higher than the national average of 17 miles but the average travel time of 29 minutes is lower than the national average of 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Lancashire 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 Lancashire 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.