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The force says...

Wiltshire Police operates across an area of 3,485 square kilometres. The County has two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire and Swindon, consisting of 18 community areas and seven localities.

Wiltshire has a population of approximately 684,000 people, with a wide range of socio-economic characteristics. Wiltshire is a largely rural county with the main towns of Swindon, Salisbury, Chippenham and Trowbridge hosting the more densely populated communities. The county has a large military personnel presence of over 30,000, and is also home to Stonehenge and the busy M4 corridor.

The Force has over 2,000 staff, including 1,003 police officers supported by PCSOs and police staff. The Force is capably supported by special constables and volunteers throughout the county. Within the last year, the Force has received approximately 580,494 calls for service and recorded approximately 40,968. Crime volumes in Wiltshire are in line with other forces.

Wiltshire has a budget of just over £100 million, which has seen a real-terms reduction of 31.4% over seven years. Wiltshire is one of the cheapest forces, with officer cost per head of population consistently amongst the lowest nationally.

The Force has embarked on a number of collaborative projects in order to continue providing an efficient and effective service, including specialist operations with regional forces and creating strong relationships with local authorities. Partnership working, co-location and campuses are the essence of public sector services both in Wiltshire and Swindon.

The priorities for the Force are:

  • Prevent crime and keep people safe
  • Protect the most vulnerable people in society
  • Put victims, witnesses and communities at the heart of everything we do
  • Secure a quality service that is trusted and efficient

Wiltshire Police is a values-based, technology-advancing organisation, which has gone through significant transformation. Using innovative approaches has assisted to balance the challenges of meeting our policing requirement to provide the best possible service to the public, against a background of reducing budgets.

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

HMIC says...

Wiltshire Police provides policing services to the county of Wiltshire. The police force area covers 1,346 square miles in the south west of England. There are areas of deprivation and areas of affluence in Wiltshire. Around 0.7 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. Its numerous small urban areas include the city of Salisbury and the town of Swindon. The resident population is increased by the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year.

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 2,254 OAs in Wiltshire with an average size of 155 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (53 percent) of OAs in Wiltshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizeable proportion (20 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the predominantly rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in towns of Wiltshire with the largest spread across the extensive 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. Wiltshire has a median house price, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £237,574 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). Wiltshire has 0.4 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 22.4 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 6.3 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are large areas of 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 0.6 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in Wiltshire. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 4.7 percent of Wiltshire’s predicted incidents, these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 1.0 percent of the total area of the force.

Within Wiltshire:

  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents 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 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 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 Wiltshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,254 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.

Wiltshire has 118 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 17 miles (longest 45 miles and shortest 0.5 miles) and the average travel time of 30 minutes from the centre of the force to each OA are the same as the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Wiltshire 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 Wiltshire 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.