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 –  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:

  1. The briefing only contains details of burglaries and robberies. Other crimes are not included.
  2. 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.
  3. This map is only for the Battersea parliamentary consitutuency – which is different to the police’s Battersea sector.
  4. 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.

PCSO Steve, part of the local Safer Neighbourhood Team
PCSO Steve, part of the local Safer Neighbourhood Team

The Council and Police’s Safe and Secure Roadshow was at Asda, Battersea today, handing out crime prevention advice to shoppers and balloons to the children (who also had a chance to meet PCSO Steve).

It is, unfortunately, a good time for criminals as people often have fairly expensive, and brand new, gifts around – so it pays to make sure you aren’t giving the gift to the wrong people!

The council’s community safety team partner with local police Safer Neighbourhood Teams around the borough to put on the roadshows.  If you don’t see one there’s lots of useful advice to be found on the council’s Community Safety website.

The new Waitrose store on St John's Road

The new Waitrose store on St John's Road

It was a good day for Clapham Junction with the opening of the new Waitrose store on St John’s Road.  It seemed to be doing a roaring trade from the outset, but most importantly it was a vote of confidence in Battersea and Wandsworth at a time when other high street names are closing.

It is very hard to be positive when the economic outlook is looking bleak, to say the least, but Waitrose will provide some stability (they replaced a Woolworth’s store) and will provide around 130 local jobs.  It would be irresponsible to suggest that Wandsworth won’t be hit by the recession – but there is some evidence, like Waitrose’s confidence, that the borough is well-placed to avoid the worst effects.

Deputy Mayor Peter Dawson switches on Northcote Road's Christmas lights
Deputy Mayor Peter Dawson switches on Northcote Road's Christmas lights

On a brighter note Northcote Road celebrated Christmas with the turning on of their Christmas lights tonight with a healthy crowd braving slightly damp weather to join the Deputy Mayor in the switch-on.  The whole of Northcote Road joined in with a late night shopping event with many stores offering one day sales.  If you went along I hope you managed to snap up a few bargains!

The Asda store on Lavender Hill re-opened today as ‘Asda Clapham Junction Battersea’ in response to the SW11tch campaign to make sure the area is properly named.

Celebrating the 'opening' of Asda Battersea
Celebrating the 'opening' of Asda Battersea

Asda was one of the biggest offenders (Wal-Mart is the world’s largest company).  So it’s a real coup for the campaigners to get them to recognise where they live.

A common question is ‘why is it important’?  I think there are two answers.

First, you need to know where you are!  When Waitrose announced they had bought some Woolworth’s stores and would be opening new shops there was a real buzz on a Clapham web-forum.  Until, that is, they realised that Waitrose had made a mistake, and were moving to Battersea, not Clapham High Street.

But the second issue is branding.  Wal-mart do not allow each Asda store to create their own brand, perhaps focusing on different products, or creating their own logo.  It is important to have a distinctive brand that people recognise and can trust, especially when times are hard.  And it’s no less important for Battersea to have it’s own brand, so people know where and what it is – a high quality, diverse and distinctive destination.