More about this area
The force says...
South Wales Police provides a policing service to 1.3 million people covering 42% of Wales’ population with around 49% of the total crime in Wales. During 2014/15 the force received a total of 1,366,042 calls and recorded 89,388 crimes, making it the 7th busiest force (outside of London) in England and Wales in terms of crimes per 1,000 population. In the 12 months to September 2015 the force has seen 35,848 arrests, 403,469 incidents, 168,021 emergency and 428,591 non-emergency calls.
The force has an extensive understanding of the demands on its services. For example, we make on average 94 arrests, trace 32 missing people, manage 54 assaults and deal with 359 public safety welfare calls on a typical day.
Policing in South Wales is delivered by 2,864 officers, 1,736 staff and 409 police community support officers, with a budget of £255million.
The force area includes 64 of the 100 most deprived communities in Wales and is a diverse region featuring rural, coastal and urban policing challenges including the two most populated cities in Wales, Swansea and the capital city, Cardiff, which attracts over 18 million visitors per year and is home to over 94,000 students.
Policing a capital city brings its own demands. The presence of the Welsh Government requires a dedicated policing unit responsible for security of the buildings and its staff. Despite the increased demand we do not receive capital city status funding.
South Wales Police is the strategic force in Wales delivering not only a local service but also providing support for major national events outside the force area, such as the 2014 NATO conference and the London riots. The force polices approximately 500 events each year including national and international sporting events, royal visits and demonstrations whilst policing the night time economies in Cardiff and Swansea.
Disclaimer: the above statement has been prepared by South Wales Police. The views and information in it are not necessarily those of HMICFRS.
South Wales Police provides policing services to the areas of West, South and Mid-Glamorgan. The police force area covers 803 square miles with approximately 150 miles of coastline in the south of Wales. Although there are some more affluent areas, South Wales has a high level of poverty. Around 1.3 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the cities of Cardiff and Swansea as well as smaller towns. The resident population is increased by 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, air and sea ports.
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 4,170 OAs in South Wales with an average size of 50 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (62 percent) of OAs in South Wales are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a small proportion (eight percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Cardiff and Swansea with the largest spread across the 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. South Wales has a median house price of £128,370 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 109 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 South Wales, one percent of the OAs accounts for 15 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 2.2 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 South Wales:
- 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; and
- the proportion of OAs that are very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance is higher than the national level of one percent.
As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of South Wales we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 4,170 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.
South Wales has 210 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 20 miles (longest [45 miles and shortest 0.8 miles) and the average travel time of 37 minutes are higher than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size, variety and complexity of South Wales.
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 South 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.