More about this area

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The force says...

The West Midlands is a predominantly urban area covering the cities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry and the districts of Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall.

The population is over 2.7 million people, with an ethnic minority population of 30% and with a high demographic of young people.

The force deals with transnational policing issues. During 2016, 18.5% arrests made related to foreign nationals, an increase on previous figures.

The area faces the most significant challenge with terrorism and extremism outside London and is a national lead in the delivery of counter terrorism policing.

The force also faces significant challenges in organised crime. It is the lead force in the operation of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service.

The force is focused upon local policing. The force has recently reduced from 10 to 8 neighbourhood policing units, covering 170 neighbourhoods, each served by a dedicated team. The new Neighbourhood Policing Model embodies a focused and determined approach to prevent crime, disorder and demand.

The force has faced significant funding cuts. The workforce has reduced by 22% since 2010. It has had to innovate to meet the austerity challenge.

The Force formed a strategic partnership with Accenture to deliver the WMP 2020 change programme with the anticipation of further austerity. The programme is now 2 years into delivering the 2020 Blueprint with up to 30 major projects running concurrently. This includes the rollout of body worn videos, mobile devices for Officers, implementation of a new cloud based ERP platform, a major new way of working programme as well as the first stages of a new operating model for Policing in the region.

The force is focused upon improving its approach to protecting the vulnerable, reducing violence, increasing confidence and reducing demand.

The force has seen a reduction in crime since 2010 and has demonstrated high ethical standards in crime recording which gives confidence in the reductions which currently stand at 6.83%.

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

HMIC says...

West Midlands Police provides policing services to the metropolitan area of the West Midlands. The police force area covers 348 square miles in the centre of England. There are areas of deprivation and affluence in the West Midlands. Around 2.8 million people live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the West Midlands conurbation, including the cities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry and large surrounding townships. The resident population is ethnically very diverse, with 30 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by a 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 and a major airport.

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 8,464 OAs in West Midlands with an average size of 11 hectares which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the vast majority (79 percent) of OAs in West Midlands are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a very smaller proportion (one percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the urban conurbation with few sparsely populated 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. West Midlands has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £142,872 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). West Midlands has 11.4 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 6.4 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 1.7 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are areas of lower value housing and deprivation, with a smaller 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 6.7 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in the West Midlands. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 15.2 percent of the West Midlands’ predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 6.0 percent of the total area of the force.

Within West Midlands:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents is higher 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 higher 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 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 West Midlands we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 8,464 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.

West Midlands has 57 miles of motorways and trunk roads but the average travel distance of 9.9 miles (longest 28 miles and shortest 8.7 miles) and the average travel time of 19.4 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 West Midlands 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 West Midlands 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.