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The force says...

With a population of over 2.2 million, West Yorkshire Police is the fourth largest force in the country comprising an economically, socially and culturally diverse population. There are five local authorities, with coterminous policing districts, covering both urban and rural communities.

West Yorkshire has much higher than average demand in relation to crime, calls for service and anti-social behaviour. This reflects the challenges faced, as 56% of wards have areas in the top 10% deprivation index and unemployment is above the national average. The black, Asian and minority ethnic population is increasing and is currently 18.2%. Community cohesion is essential and although demonstrations and protests are well managed, there are community tension and public order risks.

In line with national trends, recorded crime has increased this year in particular around sexual offences and violence. This is primarily due to crime recording changes as well as the pro-activity of the force and increased confidence to report.

District policing encompasses neighbourhood policing, response, crime investigation and safeguarding vulnerable people. Local policing services are supported by specialist operational and crime capabilities and corporate/back office services.

The force hosts the National Police Air Service and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit. We collaborate across the Yorkshire and Humber Region around operational and support services and lead on the provision of scientific support.

Although calls for service have slightly reduced, workload per officer has increased. Budgetary reductions of £124.5 million since 2010 have resulted in 2,140 fewer officers and staff. The demand dealt with is becoming more complex and costly, requiring a multi-agency response. Key threats include child sexual exploitation and abuse, mental health, missing persons and terrorism. The nature of crime is changing with an increase in cyber-enabled offending, requiring new ways of working.

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

HMIC says...

West Yorkshire Police provides policing services to the county of West Yorkshire. The police force area covers 783 square miles in the north of England. Although there are a number of more affluent areas, West Yorkshire has a high level of poverty. Around 2.3 million people mainly live in the urban conurbation which includes the cities of Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford, as well as several large towns surrounded by rural areas. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 18 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by the very large number of 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 and an airport.

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 7,130 OAs in West Yorkshire with an average size of 28 hectares which is much smaller than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (65 percent) of OAs in West Yorkshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a smaller proportion (four percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the urban conurbation with few 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. West Yorkshire has a median house price of £138,167 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 an 86 percent difference between low and high prices within the force area, suggesting that there are some areas of affluence as well as poverty.

The predicted number of incidents for each OA varies considerably. In West Yorkshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 15 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 1.1 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 West Yorkshire:

  • 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 higher 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 higher than the national level of one percent.

As an indication of the challenge for the police to reach citizens in all parts of West Yorkshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 7,130 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.

West Yorkshire has 88.5 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 10.7 miles (longest 33 miles and shortest 0.1 miles) and the average travel time of 21 minutes are lower than the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of West Yorkshire 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 West Yorkshire 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.