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The force says...

The Met is London’s police service: the biggest in the UK and the largest city force in the European Union, ensuring the safety and security of a thriving political, economic, cultural and technological capital. London is a global city with an ever-changing population that is expected to reach 9 million by 2020.

Alongside policing a geographical area of 620 square kilometres across 32 boroughs, the Met has a significant number of officers and staff in specialist crime, investigations and operations. The Met has responsibility for protection in royal, diplomatic and parliamentary matters and is a significant presence in the national response to serious and organised criminality.

The Met has 31,877 police officers – around 25% of the England and Wales total, policing 14.6% of the England & Wales population and dealing with 20.6% of all crime. The Met has an ambition for its workforce to be representative of the communities of London: a city with over 270 nationalities and 300 languages, where 36% of residents are black, Asian or minority ethnic.

Whilst we have seen decreases in some volume/ traditional crimes, such as residential burglary, there has been a rise in the identification and reporting of more complex crime types including terrorist offences, sexual offences and online crime. The more complicated nature of crime in the capital means that officer numbers are higher than other parts of England and Wales.

The Met was issued a 20% cost reduction target by the Mayor, to be achieved by 2016. We have undertaken a programme of significant change, and to date have delivered £600m in savings. In line with the Mayor’s pledge of 32,000 officers, neighbourhood teams have been enhanced by 2,000 officers and the Met now has 26,000 police constables (a record high number).

The next few years present significant challenges to the organisation: the likelihood of further income pressures alongside a shifting and increasingly complex crime picture mean the Met will once again need to respond to deliver the safest global city to which we aspire.

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

HMIC says...

The Metropolitan Police Service provides policing services to Greater London. The police force area covers 607 square miles in the south east of England. Although there are areas of acute deprivation within the force area there are also areas of extreme affluence. Around 8.5 million people live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the urban conurbation of Greater London, including the City of Westminster. The resident population is ethnically very diverse, with 40 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by a very large number of university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, public transport hubs and major airports.

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 25,015 OAs in Greater London with an average size of 6 hectares, which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. Almost all (91 percent) of the OAs in Greater London are relatively small at under 10 hectares and none over 100 hectares, indicating the urban conurbation.

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. Greater London has a median house price of £397,152 which is higher than the median of England and Wales (£254,549). Excluding the least expensive ten percent and the most expensive ten percent of house prices, there is a 127 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are both areas of affluence and poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Greater London, one percent of the OAs accounts for 11 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 1.9 percent of the total force area.

A concentration of predicted demands in a small number of OAs is a feature of every police force. We have designated these OAs (approximately 1,800 throughout England and Wales) as a very high challenge to police. These areas of very high challenge are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both.
Within Greater London:

  • 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 lower than the national level of one percent; and
  • the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance 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 Greater London we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 25,015 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.

Greater London has 60 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 9 miles (longest 25 miles and shortest 0.2 miles) and the average travel time of 25 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and complexity of Greater London 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 Greater London 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.