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Geographical Analysis: Vulnerable Localities Index


Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index

Dates: 2005-2006

Staff: Spencer Chainey

The growth of the intelligence-led paradigm in policing and crime reduction partnerships has also called for the need to develop analytical techniques that can aid the development of neighbourhood-level intelligence. A technique that has generated increasing interest in England and Wales to help identify neighbourhoods that require prioritised attention is the Vulnerable Localities Index (VLI). This is a composite measure that is calculated using six variables.

The VLI aids the systematic identification of priority neighbourhoods, using a methodology that can be applied in any part of England and Wales (regardless of differences in crime levels), and at any level of geographic scale. It was pilot tested in 2006 across eight sites and has gained particular interest in aiding neighbourhood policing and partnership intelligence requirements.  We estimate it has now been used in over 100 CSP and Police Force district/BCU sites in England and Wales. 

It was designed by the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science in collaboration with the National Centre for Policing Excellence (NCPE—now part of the National Policing Improvement Agency).

Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index

The origins of the VLI derive from research that developed new national policing guidance on community cohesion. With an initial focus that drew from the reviews of the riots in Bradford, Burnley, Oldham and Wrexham in 2001, the application of the VLI is now applied more widely for supporting Neighbourhood Policing (NCPE, 2006) and partnership intelligence development.

The 2001 Riots Reviews

The riots in Bradford, Burnley, Wrexham and Oldham in 2001 resulted in a number of government reviews that explored how the civil disorders emerged, if there were common themes between the incidents, and recommendations that would help prevent them from happening again, not just in the four towns that were affected, but to pre-empt and prevent similar disorders in other areas. The reviews’ findings included the recognition of an undercurrent of poor socio-economic conditions in each of the communities that were affected, characterized by high levels of deprivation, disenfranchisement of young people, high unemployment, lack of a strong cultural identity, active far right groups and high levels of crime. The reviews also suggested that "community cohesion must be a central aim of government, reflected in all policy making including regeneration" and that "further violence is likely if government, police and community leaders fail to break this polarisation’ (Home Office, 2001a; Home Office, 2001b)

Soon after the reviews, national guidance on community cohesion was published (Home Office, 2003; LGA, 2002), with the police service seen to have a specific role in protecting communities by identifying and addressing issues of disproportionate criminality, victimization and tension, whilst also appreciating the factors that influence the undercurrent of disproportionality (NCPE, 2003). To perform this role, it therefore required the police service to identify those communities that were most affected and respond to their needs in coordination with their local partners.

Home Office. (2001a). Building Cohesive Communities: A Report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion. London: Home Office.

Home Office. (2001b). Community Cohesion: A Report of the Independent Review Team, chaired by Ted Cantle. London: Home Office.

Home Office. (2003). Building a Picture of Community Cohesion. London: Home Office Community Cohesion Unit.

Local Government Association (2002). Guidance on Community Cohesion. London: LGA Publications.

NCPE. (2003). Draft Community Cohesion Guidance. Bramshill, Hampshire: Centrex.

NCPE. (2006). Briefing Paper: Neighbourhood Policing and the National Intelligence Model. Wyboston: ACPO Centrex. 

Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index

Chainey,S.P. (2008). Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. 2:2:196-209

Chainey, S.P. (2010). Class 3C: Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index.  Presented at the 8th National Crime Mapping Conference, Manchester

UCL JDI Neighbourhood Analysis training course

“Really practical.  Learnt all about the VLI and how to effectively use Mosaic/ACORN data with the BCS” Police Intelligence Analyst

This one day GIS-based training course explores analytical techniques for identifying priority neighbourhoods (e.g. the Vulnerable Localities Index), explores the utility of geodemographic lifestyle datasets (e.g. the British Crime Survey linked to MOSAIC and ACORN), discusses the signal crimes approach and the mapping of visual audits and surveys, and explores the data to consider in a Neighbourhood Profile.

Bullen, I. (2008). “Priority Neighbourhoods and the Vulnerable Localities Index in Wigan—A Strategic Partnership Approach to Crime Reduction.” In Chainey S. P. And Tompson L. (eds), Crime Mapping Case Studies: Practice and Research. London: Wiley.

Dallison, M. (2005). “Assessing the Level of Community Cohesion within the Pennine Division of Lancashire Constabulary.” Presented at the 3rd National Crime Mapping Conference, London.

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