Crime mapping is something that started off in the US and is starting to be implemented in the UK, and while it is seen as a good thing by both parties I don’t think there are many places in the UK that have done it well.
The Metropolitan Police have their own mapping site – maps.met.police.uk. But this is one that I don’t think really hits the spot. If you look at site today you’ll see that most of London has ‘average’ crime. If you zoom into Wandsworth you’ll see that it has average crime. Look at the wards of Wandsworth, and yes, most of them have average crime. You can even zoom into sub-wards (a small collection of roads that might, or might not, be similar) and discover that pretty much every sub-ward suffers average crime.
I don’t think ‘average’ helps anyone. It’s difficult to judge what it means, and given that most people think crime is much higher than it actually is you just end up thinking that average crime is actually quite high.
I think something like the map below helps a bit more (please see the health warnings underneath):
View Larger Map
The map is hosted by Google, and occasionally will not load, or will not load the flags. If it does not display correctly, try refreshing the page or following the link directly under the map.
On this map the yellow flags represent burglaries, the red flags represent street crime. You can see it in more detail on the Google website. This information is taken from the council’s crime briefing – which is distributed to Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators – for 4-11 December 2008. I think this type of mapping helps more than generic averages and areas. There are, however, a few health warnings:
- The briefing only contains details of burglaries and robberies. Other crimes are not included.
- The flags are not placed precisely (it would be irresponsible to advertise victims of burglary) but instead are spaced roughly equally on the roads they took place.
- This map is only for the Battersea parliamentary consitutuency – which is different to the police’s Battersea sector.
- While I try to ensure the data is accurate it is reliant on the information I receive, and I’m only human, so it may be mistakes have crept in. Please let me know if you think you’ve spotted one.