Over the past few months Crime Mapping has floated up the political agenda, reaching the mainstream with Boris Johnson’s recent call for crime mapping, echoed by the Guardian’s Free our Data campaign, and this morning followed up by the reporting of Louise Casey’s Cabinet Office report.
You would think from the media, that this is something new in the UK, but in fact Crime Mapping has been taking place for many years, and the UK has world renowned expertise as demonstrated by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at UCL who next month are running the 6th, yes that’s the 6th National Crime Mapping Conference in Manchester.
What is new, and what should be applauded, is at last a focus on making much of this information available to the public- until now the efforts have concentrated on producing crime maps for internal consumption by police forces themselves.
As a matter of principal, making information public is always a good thing, when the information allows citizens to make decisions, and to independently monitor the services provided to them by Government.
We should not have to rely on maps like the one below created by Keir Clarke, who scraped local authority websites to build this mash-up.
If I can use this website to monitor the performance of British Airways, should I not be able to monitor the effectiveness of my local police force.
There is often a disconnect between peoples perception of crime and its actual occurrence, a map with a few push-pins representing successful neighbourhood policing will be much more valuable than the next crime survey report finding.
Of course there must be mechanisms to protect the identity of individual victims of crime, but is the situation really much different from the crime reporting in Local Newspapers ?
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.