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The force says...

Merseyside Police serves a population of around 1.5 million people. This is swelled by a large student population and visitors to elite sporting events, conference and exhibition centres, and tourist attractions – including Premier League and rugby league fixtures, the Grand National, Labour Party Conference, and the International Music Festival. The region hosts a major sea and air port as well as high security prisons and detention centres.  Combined, these factors generate significant threats and risks which include the policing of large scale public order events.

Despite investment, all five local authorities are amongst the most deprived in England and Wales. Deprivation and high unemployment are underlying factors in the causes of criminality within the region.

Varied and complex policing challenges are reflected in the force’s priorities:

  • Prevent crime and anti social behaviour;
  • Provide visible, accessible neighbourhood policing;
  • Tackle serious and organised crime; and
  • Support victims, protect vulnerable people and maintain public safety.

Demands placed upon the force are significant. On average, the force deals with almost 1 million calls for service per year, of which approximately 250,000 are emergencies. On a typical day, there will be approximately 1 officer on duty for every 1,243 people living in the area, 290 crimes and 1,205 incidents recorded, 33 people reported missing and 135 vulnerability risks assessments completed. In addition, the Force tackles approximately 190 organised crime groups involving over 2,500 members whose criminal activities reach far beyond the force.

The force has embarked upon a major restructure of its operating model, placing increased emphasis on daily allocation of reduced resources in accordance with threat, harm and risk, focused on early identification of vulnerability to provide appropriate support. This presents significant challenges, particularly regarding child sexual exploitation and abuse, cyber crime, modern slavery and human trafficking, which have increased demand and the complexity of crime.

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

HMIC says...

Merseyside Police provides policing services to the metropolitan area of Merseyside. The police force area covers 250 square miles with approximately 65 miles of coastline in the north west of England. Although there are some more affluent areas, Merseyside has a high level of poverty. Around 1.5 million people live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the conurbation that includes the city of Liverpool and surrounding towns. The resident population is increased by very large number of 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, an airport and a major sea port.

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 4,676 OAs in Merseyside with an average size of 14 hectares which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the vast majority (79 percent) of OAs in Merseyside are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a very much smaller proportion (2 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the urban conurbation with few, 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. Merseyside has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £129,500 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Merseyside has 31.5 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 4.2 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 1.2 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 2.2 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Merseyside. The highest challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 6.8 percent of Merseyside’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 2.4 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Merseyside:

  • 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 Merseyside we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 4,676 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.

Merseyside has 44 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 7 miles (longest 24 miles and shortest 0.3 miles) and the average travel time of 15 minutes from the centre of the force to each OA are much lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Merseyside 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 Merseyside 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.