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The force says...

Sussex Police serves East and West Sussex and the city of Brighton & Hove – an area of 3,780km2. A resident population of 1.65m grows significantly with millions of visitors, holidaymakers, students, seasonal workers and the 39 million passengers who travel through Gatwick Airport annually.

Urban areas, with their day and night-time economies and more sparsely populated rural areas present contrasting policing challenges from alcohol and drug-related crime to wildlife crime.

Already a low-cost force (spending £37m below the national force average), since 2010 the Force has made savings of £76m and continues to systematically transform its operation – a new, flexible local policing approach will be fully implemented during 2017 – embedding consistent, professional practice that is ethically based and informed by what works.

2016 has seen continuing increases in certain crime types including domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. We are always heartened to see victims’ increased confidence in reporting crimes, but recognise some, particularly historic, crimes can be challenging to investigate. Investment in public protection and safeguarding is continuing, to tackle the changing crime landscape.

Sussex Police works ever more closely with other forces, emergency services and academic institutions. Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley forces are partners in the South East Regional Integrated Policing programme; an ambitious regional programme to converge key policing, business functions and technology systems across the four forces, following support from the Police Transformation Fund.

Sharing resources and systems, increasing collaboration and working innovatively is essential to enhance our capacity and capabilities to tackle emerging crime threats such as child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime.

The force has almost 2,600 police officers and 1,800 police staff, 190 police community support officers and a team of dedicated volunteers that includes over 320 special constables and around 180 police cadets.

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

HMIC says...

Sussex Police provides policing services to the areas of East, West and Mid Sussex. The police force area covers 1,460 square miles with approximately 150 miles of coastline in the south of England. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Sussex is generally affluent. Around 1.7 million people mainly live in the urban centres, especially along the south coast, which include the city of Brighton and the towns of Bognor Regis, Hastings, Hove, and Horsham. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, 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 5,347 OAs in Sussex with an average size of 71 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (65 percent) of OAs in Sussex 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 Brighton and the coastal towns, 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. Sussex has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £306,375 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Sussex has 0.3 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 37.9 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 11.9 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are 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 1.5 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Sussex. The highest challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 7.8 percent of Sussex’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 0.5 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Sussex:

  • 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 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 lower than the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of Sussex we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 5,347 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.

Sussex has 131 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 21 miles (longest 54 miles and shortest 0.7 miles) and the average travel time of 33 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 and complexity of Sussex.

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 Sussex 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.