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The force says...

Suffolk Constabulary polices a population of over 740,000 with 1,097.5 full-time equivalent police officer posts.

Suffolk covers 1,467 square miles covering a county that is largely rural but home to a number of vibrant urban areas. It has a coastline that stretches from Lowestoft to Felixstowe (the largest container port in Europe), four military bases and a nuclear power station.

The county’s population has grown by 9.8% over the last 14 years and is expected to rise to over 780,000 by 2021. By 2021 over 50% of the population is anticipated to be aged 45 years and over. More than 83,000 people in Suffolk live in income deprivation. Tourism plays a key role in the economy of Suffolk contributing £1.85 billion in 2016, with 38,369 associated jobs.

Suffolk Constabulary is sixth lowest in the country for officer numbers per 1,000 population. The workforce has reduced by over 14% in the last five years.

The net revenue budget for policing in 2017/18 is £113.5 million. Since 2010, £25.8 million has been identified in savings, £14.1 million of which has been achieved through collaboration.  Savings of £1.7 million are planned for 2017/18, with further savings of £2.7 million needing to be identified by the end of 2020/21.

The Constabulary receives over 280,000 calls for service each year; 32% of these are 999 emergencies. Around 44,000 crimes were recorded in 2016.

The Constabulary’s strategic assessment outlines a departure from ‘traditional’ crime to an emphasis on vulnerability and hidden harm, e.g. Serious Sexual Offences, Child Sexual Exploitation, Hate Crime, Domestic Abuse and Modern Slavery. This is supported by a reduction in the number of traditional crimes and a rise in the volume of some of the vulnerability based crimes. Between 2011 and 2016 Burglary reduced by 45%; Robbery by 43%; and Vehicle crime by 45%. In contrast, Serious Sexual Offences have risen by 26% and Other Sexual Offences by 70%.

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

HMIC says...

Suffolk Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Suffolk. The police force area covers 1,467 square miles with approximately 140 miles of coastline in East Anglia. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Suffolk is generally affluent. Around 0.7 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. It has a small number of distinct urban areas that include the towns of Ipswich and Lowestoft. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 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 2,454 OAs in Suffolk with an average size of 155 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the almost half (47 percent) of OAs in Suffolk are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizeable proportion (24 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Ipswich and Lowestoft 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. Suffolk has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £223,125 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Suffolk has 1.4 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 18.1 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 4.1 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are areas of acute affluence and high house prices, with a 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 0.8 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Suffolk. The highest challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 5.6 percent of Suffolk’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 1.4 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Suffolk:

  • 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 very low 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 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 lower 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 lower than the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of Suffolk we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,454 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.

Suffolk has 81 miles of trunk roads; the average travel distance of 21 miles (longest 46 miles and shortest 1.1 miles) and the average travel time of 31 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 of Suffolk 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 Suffolk 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.