Hotspot policing rolled out to 18 forces following successful pilots

Eighteen police forces are to share more than £4 million in additional funding to roll-out ‘hotspot policing’ after pilot schemes resulted in dramatic falls in violent crime.

Sep 17, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Policing minister Kit Malthouse with officers from Essex Police.

The tactic involves operating regular, intensive, high-visibility police foot patrols for short periods of time within specific areas where there is a risk of serious violence.

During the first pilot in Southend-on-Sea in 2020, officers from Essex Police targeted 20 hotspots, each 150m by 150m in size, placing officers on 15-minute-long uniformed patrols at targeted times.

This resulted in a 73.5 per cent drop in violent crime and 31.9 per cent fall in street crime on days when patrols visited, compared with days they did not. Other trials have shown similar results – a recent hotspot operation by Bedfordshire Police across 21 hotspot neighbourhoods saw harm from serious violence drop by 44 per cent on patrol days.

Following the success of these pilots, 18 police forces in England and Wales most affected by serious violence at the time of the programme’s inception in 2019 will be given the funding boost to roll out hotspot policing in targeted high-crime areas to help keep communities safer. The additional £4.12 million will bring the total funding given to those 18 forces to tackle serious violence to £28.6 million in 2021.

Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Basford designed hotspot policing as part his Masters degree in Criminology from Cambridge University.

He said: “We’re continuing to see results from hotspot policing, and I’m thrilled it’s been rolled out across the country. This is simply police doing high-visibility policing. It’s nothing new, but it does get results. I’m thrilled that police forces across the country are being given extra funds to continue this approach.

“We’re committed to tackling violent crime in Essex, and we know that one of the main factors of this type of crime in our county is the sale of drugs and the impact that has on our communities. Our Op Raptor teams, which tackle street and drugs gangs, made 272 arrests in the first six months of 2021, and we’ll continue to arrest the perpetrators of these cowardly, destructive crimes.”

The 18 forces most affected by serious violence at the Grip programme’s inception in 2019 were determined by hospital admissions volume data from 2015/16 and 2019/20. They are: Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria, Thames Valley, Lancashire, Essex, Avon and Somerset, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Sussex, Hampshire and South Wales.

The Home Office has also provisionally allocated £780,000 of one-off funding to support two force areas – Cleveland and Humberside – affected by serious violence but not currently in receipt of Grip funding.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for serious violent crime, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, said: “The damage caused to lives, particularly young ones, by violence is incredibly serious and tackling this issue is a priority for policing across the country.

“There is good evidence that when done effectively, hotspot patrols can have a sustained impact on violence reduction. This additional funding is greatly welcomed as it will build on our understanding of what works.

“The hotspots strategy, in combination with the partnerships police have formed with violence reduction units, shows our commitment to supporting communities and our young people in the prevention of serious youth violence.”

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “The Government is working hard to confront violence in all its forms and make neighbourhoods safe. People want police officers visible on their streets, stopping violence and protecting people from harm and exploitation.

“That is what our smart new approach to hotspot policing does and I am delighted to see the tactic is already reducing high harm crime in some areas and look forward to this success being replicated in other towns and cities across the country.”

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