After all the fuss about my old crime maps and the crime briefing the council would send out to Neighbourhood Watch coordinators the government are the ones to ride in and save the day with their new crime mapping system.
You can read about the sad history of my crime maps in a post I published at the time, but the short story is that after 18 months of publishing them a complaint from Harrow Council brought them, and the council briefings I used to create them, to an end.
This was annoying, not least because we knew that pretty much every other council continued (and continues) to produce the same sort of crime briefing to inform their Neighbourhood Watch coordinators. But having been identified, we had to stop. This was, and continues to be, an incredibly sore point for many people who valued the regular briefing.
But now the government has come good on its commitment to providing ‘street level’ information on crime. I first heard that publication was imminent a few weeks ago, and was surprised when I was told how they would work, mainly because the Information Commissioner has been so insistent that this sort of mapping isn’t acceptable.
The new mapping site follows almost the same methodology as my maps did, using the central point for a road to spot map crime. But it has a lot more information than mine did, mapping anti-social behaviour, robbery, burglary, vehicle crime, violent crime and a generic category for all other crime. I’m convinced these work well in informing the public. In most cases, I suspect people will be surprised at how low crime is: when I was producing my maps people just assumed crime rates were much higher. But they are a valuable took which enable people to hold the relevant authorities to account.
I’d love to know what you think of them, but most of all I would love to know what the Information Commissioner thinks about it!