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The force says...

Wiltshire Police operates across an area of 3,485 square kilometres. The county has two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire and Swindon, consisting of 18 community areas and seven localities.

Wiltshire has a population of approximately 684,000 people, with a wide range of socio-economic characteristics. Wiltshire is a largely rural county with the main towns of Swindon, Salisbury, Chippenham and Trowbridge hosting the more densely populated communities. The county has a large military personnel presence of over 30,000, and is also home to Stonehenge and the busy M4 corridor.

The force has over 2,000 staff, including 1,011 police officers supported by police community support officers and police staff. The force is capably supported by special constables and volunteers throughout the county. Within the last year, the force has received approximately 581,611 calls for service and recorded approximately 36,133 crimes. Crime volumes in Wiltshire are low compared to other force areas.

Wiltshire has a budget of just over £100 million, which has seen a real terms reduction in funding of 31% over five years. Wiltshire is one of the cheapest forces, with officer cost per head of population consistently amongst the lowest in the country, providing good value for money.

The force has embarked on a number of collaborative projects in order to continue providing an efficient and effective service, including creating strong relationships with the local authorities and regional forces. Partnership working, co-location and campuses are the essence of public sector services both in Wiltshire and Swindon.

The priorities for the force are:

  • Prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • Protect the most vulnerable in society.
  • Put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do.
  • Secure high quality, efficient and trusted services.

Wiltshire Police is proud to be a values based organisation, which it uses to provide the best possible service.

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

HMIC says...

Wiltshire Police provides policing services to the county of Wiltshire. The police force area covers 1,346 square miles in the south west of England. There are areas of deprivation and areas of affluence in Wiltshire. Around 0.7 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. Its numerous small urban areas include the city of Salisbury and the town of Swindon. The resident population is increased by the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year.

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 2,254 OAs in Wiltshire with an average size of 155 hectares which is bigger than the national average of 87 hectares. While the majority (53 percent) of OAs in Wiltshire are relatively small at under 10 hectares, a sizable proportion (20 percent) are extremely large in size (over 100 hectares) indicating the predominantly rural localities. The smallest OAs are concentrated in towns of Wiltshire with the largest spread across the extensive 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. Wiltshire has a median house price of £204,841 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 89 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 Wiltshire, one percent of the OAs accounts for 13 percent of the predicted demands for police services – this is 0.5 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 Wiltshire:

  • 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 Wiltshire we calculated the average travel time and distance from the central point of the force area to the centre of each of the 2,254 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.

Wiltshire has 159 miles of motorways and trunk roads; the average travel distance of 17 miles (longest 45 miles and shortest 0.5 miles) and the average travel time of 30 minutes are the same as the respective national averages of 17 miles and 30 minutes. This demonstrates the size of Wiltshire 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 Wiltshire 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.