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The force says...

Surrey Police serves a population of 1.15 million covering an area of 642 square miles and is the most densely populated county in the south east of England. Surrey’s roads carry almost double the national average amount of traffic and its 62 motorway miles includes the busiest stretch of the M25.

The Olympic legacy increased the county’s sporting footprint and now hosts regular national cycling competitions. Surrey also boasts the best attended event in the British sporting calendar, the Epsom Derby, attracting 100,000 race-goers each year.

With 44 offences per 1,000 people, Surrey’s crime rate is 29% less than the England average, making Surrey one of the safest places to live in the country. Over the last year, the force has seen significant rises in serious sexual offences, domestic violence and violence with injury offences resulting from increased victim confidence, the introduction of new offences and greater compliance with national crime recording standards.

Public safety and welfare issues currently make up 27% of all incidents with around 55% of crimes involving a vulnerable victim, witness or offender. To meet these increased demands the Safeguarding Investigations Unit will be 34% larger and will also receive additional resourcing.

Surrey receives the second lowest government grant funding per head of population, resulting in the highest local precept level. Policing in Surrey costs 49p per person per day compared against the national average of 55p but public confidence in the service remains high.

Savings in the order of £25m need to be made over the next 4 years. To deliver savings and address the changing nature in demand the force is collaborating bilaterally and regionally and developing Policing in Your Neighbourhoods (a new local policing model). By doing this, Surrey Police will broadly maintain officer numbers at current levels whilst rationalising police staff roles.

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

HMIC says...

Surrey Police provides policing services to the county of Surrey. Surrey is generally affluent. The police force area covers 642 square miles in the south east of England. Around 1.2 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the outskirts of Greater London, as well as several other distinct urban areas, including the towns of Guildford, Reigate, Staines and Esher. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations.

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 3,586 OAs in Surrey with an average size of 46 hectares which is smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (51 percent) of OAs in Surrey are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (9 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the mixture of urban and rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in Guildford and the towns of Surrey, 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. Surrey has a median house price of £410,700 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 an 89 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting the affluence of the area.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In Surrey, one percent of the OAs accounts for 13 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.4 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 Surrey:

  • 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 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 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 Surrey we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 3,586 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.

Surrey has 185 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 14 miles (longest 40 miles and shortest 0.9 miles) and the average travel time of 26 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Surrey 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 Surrey 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.