More about this area
The force says...
North Wales is one of the safest places 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. The Welsh language is an important part of our culture which is reflected in our workforce and working practices. The population of 687,937 is focused around Wrexham and Deeside and along the coastal strip including towns such as Rhyl, Llandudno and Bangor. 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.
This diverse mix poses a variety of policing challenges from organised crime groups and cross-border criminality to the prevention and investigation of rural and wildlife crime. In 2015/16 the force dealt with 433,374 calls of which 149,844 were calls for assistance. The force recorded 38,517 crimes for the same period, a reduction of 7.3% in crime per 1,000 head of population since 2010/11. The force has the second lowest risk of personal crime nationally and third lowest for household crime.
Policing in North Wales is provided by 1,458 police officers supported by police community support officers, special constables, volunteers and police staff. The number of police officers has reduced by 8% since 2010 compared to the 14% average reduction nationally, but remains one of the highest spend per population on local policing, by force, in 2015/16.
The force has achieved the required savings over the term of the comprehensive spending review of £24.1m with a further £7.4m saving required over the next four years.
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. Some 39 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, based on the OAs that have had a property transaction within the last 12 months, of £146,996 which is lower than the median of England and Wales (£230,358). North Wales has 11.2 percent of its OAs within the lowest 10 percent of house prices nationally, while 3.3 percent of OAs are within the top 10 percent of house prices nationally (and 0.9 percent of OAs are within the top 1 percent). This suggests that there are large areas of lower value housing and deprivation, with a very small proportion of acute affluence and high house prices.
The demands for police services are not the same in every area of England and Wales. Our analysis has revealed that the socio-demographic characteristics of an area influence the demands for police services in that area.
In every police force, there is a concentration of predicted demands in a small number of its OAs. Taking England and Wales as a whole the most challenging 1,811 (1 percent) of these account for 10.8 percent of all the predicted incidents. We have designated these areas of very high challenge and found that they are characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising or travelling in the area. Features which both cause and/or indicated a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises, including licensed premises, fast food premises, public transport and social deprivation. In some areas, these features are in combination.
Some 0.7 percent of the very high challenge areas nationally are in North Wales. The highest-challenge one percent of OAs in the force account for 7.0 percent of North Wales’ predicted incidents; these predicted demands are likely to occur in only 0.3 percent of the total area of the force.
Within North Wales:
- the proportion of OAs that are a very high challenge to police based on the predicted level of incidents is lower 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 crime is lower 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 lower than the national level of one percent;
- the proportion of OAs that are very high challenge to police for the predicted level of emergency and priority calls for assistance at incidents is very low compared 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 at crimes is lower than 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 322 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 from the centre of the force to each OA 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.