More about this area
The force says...
North Wales is one of the safest places to live in the United Kingdom. It is mainly rural with areas of outstanding natural beauty which attract a high number of visitors such as the Snowdonia National Park. The area is covered by six Local Authorities and overseen on devolved matters by the Welsh Government. Unlike many other public sector services, however, policing is not devolved. The Welsh language is an important part of our culture and is spoken by 204,406 people, which is reflected in our workforce and working practices.
The population of 688,937 is focused around Wrexham and Deeside and along the coastal strip including towns such as Rhyl, Llandudno and Bangor. Areas of social deprivation exist in these more heavily populated areas but are also present in the widespread rural areas in particular post-industrial quarrying towns and villages. Serving these rural areas is a challenge due to the roads and distances involved. Two universities in Wrexham and Bangor house a vibrant student population of 25,475 during the academic year. The area is linked to the motorway infrastructure of England by the A55 Expressway which feeds the port of Holyhead, the second busiest in the UK, and creates its own demands in terms of road-related issues.
Our work is reflected by 397,162 calls for service per year. Crime is diverse and ranges from organised crime groups to rural crime. Since 2011, victim-based crime in North Wales has reduced by 12.9% but large and growing demands on the service through vulnerability such as domestic violence, child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and cyber-crime is causing a shift of resources to specialist teams to address these problems. £24m budget cuts further complicate this, and an efficiency review is underway to inform how the force adapts to this changing landscape.
Disclaimer: the above statement has been prepared by North Wales Police. The views and information in it are not necessarily those of HMICFRS.
North Wales Police provides policing services to the areas of Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham. The police force area covers 2,375 square miles with approximately 450 miles of coastline in the north of Wales. Although there are some more affluent areas, North Wales has a high level of poverty. Around 0.7 million people live in the predominantly rural setting. Its several distinct and small urban areas include the town of Wrexham. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure also includes a major sea port.
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 2,286 OAs in North Wales with an average size of 269 hectares which is much bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. Two fifths (39 percent percent) of the OAs in North Wales are relatively small at under 10 hectares and a quarter (25 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the predominantly rural nature of the area. The smallest OAs are concentrated in the many small towns with the largest OAs spread across the more sparsely populated rural and mountainous 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. North Wales has a median house price of £152,039 which is lower 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 60 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area reflecting the poverty of the area.
The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In North Wales, one percent of the OAs accounts for 13 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.1 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 North Wales:
- 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; and
- the proportion of OAs that are very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance 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 North Wales we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,286 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.
North Wales has 169 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 31 miles (longest 72 miles and shortest 2 miles) and the average travel time of 52 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size and topography of North Wales 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 North Wales 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.