LondonBangla: New online crime maps for England and Wales have been launched, allowing users to see which offences have been reported in their local streets. Home Secretary Theresa May said the maps would give real facts and make police more accountable. The public can search for information on crime and anti-social behaviour by entering a street name or postcode. Some people have had problems accessing the website, www.police.uk.
A minister said there had been heavy use. The website had been receiving 75,000 hits per minute. Visitors to the website, which cost £300,000 to develop, will be able to find out which crimes have taken place on or near their street within the past month and which officers are responsible for their area. Information on crime is broken down into six categories – burglary, robbery, vehicle crime, violence, other crime and anti-social behaviour. Sex crimes have been included in the “other” category, along with crimes such as theft and shoplifting, to help prevent victims from being identified. Local police appeals and details of police community meetings will also be published alongside the maps.
The website provides more detail, down to street-level, than existing online crime maps provided by forces in England and Wales. Crime trends will also be established as the site develops and could be extended to include details on the outcomes of court cases, or a system for individual victims to track the progress of their case online. The site show more than 6,500 incidents of anti-social behaviour were recorded by police in England and Wales every day in December.
The Metropolitan Police was the force with the highest number of recorded incidents of antisocial behaviour in December – 34,463 incidents. According to the maps, areas in Preston, Swansea and Essex are among the most crimeridden places in England and Wales. The government said the site was an important part of its “transparency agenda”, making the data available in an open format so that communities could use it to “help people engage with the police in a meaningful way”. Mrs May said: “I think people are going to welcome the fact they can really see what’s happening with crime in their area, not just on their street but in their neighbourhood. “This is giving people a real tool, real power to see that something is being done about crime in their area. This doesn’t make them frightened, it actually makes them feel a part of what is happening.” Policing Minister Nick Herbert said that the more detailed information would not increase the fear of crime, adding: “We can’t sweep crime under the carpet.” Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed the crime maps, although she said they “should also include police strength for forces across the UK”. Victim Support said victims’ privacy should be protected, but that enough information should be given to the public “for them to be able to hold the police and criminal justice system to account”.