The need to understand Deprivation

With HMICFRS guidelines encouraging Police Forces and Fire Services to make provisions based on Risk and Harm it is becoming increasingly important that practitioners understand the key demographics a play within their areas.

Index of Multiple Deprivation

The Index of Multiple Deprivation is a metric that is produced by the Office of National Statistics ranking every Lower Super Output area (an area of land equivalent to around 1,000 homes) by a series of domains. These domains include

    • Barriers to Housing and Services
    • Crime
    • Education, Skills and Training
    • Employment
    • Health
    • Income
    • Living Environment

The IMD ranks each of the 32,884 LSOAs within England with and ranks based on each rating. For example, the LSOA with the highest level of unemployment will receive a rank of #1 for unemployment. In order to make realistic comparisons between different LSOAs, ONS encourage the use of deciles. Splitting the rankings into top 10% of rankings being decile 1, next 10% being decile 2 etc… In our distribution of IMD visualisation below, we’ve used deciles and show the proportion of LSOAs for each Local Authority that appear in each decile.

Choose your Area and the metric that you wish to view below. Note the ‘Index of Multiple Deprivation’ domain is the combined metric used by ONS, while the other choices are the sub-metrics that go into making the Index of Multiple deprivation

Hovering over a specific Local Authority gives further information about that Local Authority.

How do I interpret these charts?

Firstly, the shape of each area gives an indication of the spread of deprivation.
For example, when looking at Avon and Somerset, the top left box shows Bath and North East Somerset. The shape here is of a top-heavy triangle. This shows a high proportion of areas within this Local Authority would be described as having low deprivation (with 67% of LSOAs ranked in deciles 7 and above). Contrast this to the top middle showing City of Bristol, which shows a more equal spread across all deciles, with a wide base at the bottom showing 16% of LSOAs ranked amongst the most deprived in England.

Not only is the level of deprivation important but also the polarisation between deprived and affluent areas. Revisiting the Avon and Somerset view, the bottom right section showing West Somerset suggests that the levels of deprivation is similar across the district. This could be seen as a good indication that local issues in this area will be relatively similar, which would unlikely to be the case in far more polarised Local Authorities.


We hope you find this look on the deprivations within your force interesting. If you do have any questions as to how to interpret the differences across your area, please get in touch via email