The new crime mapping system: burglaries around Lavender Hill police station

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!

I’ve managed to get this three times so far (which makes it borderline spam, but I am on quite a few Mayoral and GLA lists) but it’s quite interesting reading.

One of the odd things about confidence in policing and fear of crime is that the biggest driver is not changing policing methods or tackling specific problems but communication and engagement. Even if everything else remained unchanged the levels of those two activities would affect public confidence.

You can sign up for the newsletter on the GLA website.

Poppies and crossesAs I go into the weekend I find myself almost computerless (mainly through my own fault) and using an old and slow computer means I’ll be keeping it brief!

Town Centre meetings
I had a meeting with representatives from the borough’s town centre partnerships early in the week which, I thought, was useful and generated a lot of ideas and issues for the council (and the town centres) to take away and work on.

The different character of the five town centres is one of the defining characteristics of Wandsworth and help give the borough its heart soul. There is nothing worse than an out of town shopping centre (having spent a large part of the day at Westfield, I’m glad we have never gone down that route).

It’s easy for a council to concentrate on its residents and not think about the businesses needed to serve the people who live there and provide jobs for local people. While I think we generally do a good job I know we don’t always get it right and am pleased the partnerships are prepared to tell us when we don’t!

Act of Remembrance
I took my son along to the Act of Remembrance in Battersea Park on 11 November. As always it was a moving ceremony that involved not just those affected or involved in the armed forces, but also local children. And while I do get a little annoyed at the few dog-walkers who cannot pause for a moment at 11am, it was good to see most people in the park taking a few minutes to those who have sacrificed so much for us all.

Civic Awards
Another defining characteristic is the council’s commitment to volunteering and giving some recognition to those who have given so much to their community. One of the year’s highlights for this is the Civic Awards which seek to recognise a handful of people each year who have given, voluntarily, huge amounts over the years to the area.

Wednesday saw five awards made to those whose lifetime of commitment had made a difference. It was an opportunity for the council to say thank-you, and for the recipients, their friends and families to celebrate. And one of those nights that really shows that the council is, and should be, about so much more than just providing services.

Building Confidence in Our Community
Finally, I spent yesterday in Roehampton at a conference organised by the police (with some help from the council’s Community Safety Division) about the different factors affecting confidence in the police in the borough.

You might, superficially, think it is just a function of the police themselves – but there are so many factors that affect what people think about safety in the area. We happen to have excellent police, but many other factors seem to determine how people think. For example, many ‘communities’ within the borough have different views because their access is restricted, not deliberately, but because people haven’t thought about their situation.

There were some powerful presentations given, I was particularly touched by two ladies who discussed their experiences of interacting with the police when they were victims of domestic abuse. It is a recurrent theme for me, but it is important to realise that things are very very rarely as clear-cut as they might seem.