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The force says...

With a population of over 2.2 million, West Yorkshire Police is the fourth-largest force in the country comprising an economically, socially and culturally diverse population. There are five local authorities, covering urban and rural communities, with coterminous policing districts.

West Yorkshire has much higher than average demand in relation to crime, calls for service and anti-social behaviour. This reflects the challenges faced, as over half of the wards have areas in the top 10% deprivation index and unemployment is above the national average.

The black, Asian and minority ethnic population is increasing and is currently 18.2%. Maintaining community confidence is essential and engagement has improved as a result of the Force’s innovative positive action recruitment campaign.

District policing provides local neighbourhood, response, crime investigation and safeguarding functions, supported centrally by specialist operational and crime capabilities and back office services. The force is focused on improving its approach to safeguarding, working in partnership to better identify and support those at risk.

The force hosts the National Police Air Service and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, which manages locally the threat from Daesh/Islamic State-inspired groups and the increasing threat from the extreme right wing. The Force collaborates across the Yorkshire and Humber Region around operational and support services and leads on the provision of scientific support.

West Yorkshire Police is operating on a budget that has reduced by £147m since 2010 while seeing increasing demand, particularly in the areas of child sexual exploitation and abuse, mental health, missing persons and terrorism.

Our workforce comprises 4,653 police officers and 4,071 police staff (including 523 police community support officers). Together with universities, we are developing new ways of working through successful funding bids, particularly in relation to cyber enabled offending and our use of technology to meet the needs of the changing nature of crime.

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

HMIC says...

West Yorkshire Police provides policing services to the county of West Yorkshire. The police force area covers 783 square miles in the north of England. Although there are a number of more affluent areas, West Yorkshire has a high level of poverty. Around 2.3 million people mainly live in the urban conurbation which includes the cities of Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford, as well as several large towns surrounded by rural areas. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 18 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by the 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 and an 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 7,130 OAs in West Yorkshire with an average size of 28 hectares which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (65 percent) of OAs in West Yorkshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (four 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. West Yorkshire has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £139,250 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). West Yorkshire has 22.4 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 4.9 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 1.3 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are large 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 3.8 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in West Yorkshire. The highest challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 11.5 percent of West Yorkshire’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 2.6 percent of the total area of the force.

Within West Yorkshire:

  • 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 West Yorkshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 7,130 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 Yorkshire has 101 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 10.7 miles (longest 33 miles and shortest 0.1 miles) and the average travel time of 21 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 Yorkshire 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 Yorkshire 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.