Crime Mapping – proof of concept

The Taskforce has been investigating what an ideal crime map might look like. Rather than a ‘fear of crime map’ how could one show the trends in crime in someone’s area and on the same screen provide information about police priorities in your neighbourhood and a one click connection to local police. That is providing information and reassurance alongside hard data.

The slideshow shows proof of concept mockups. We would welcome any suggestions from the GIS or policiing community (or indeed anyone else) on how these could be improved and their strengths and weaknesses



Filed under Crime, exemplar

18 responses to “Crime Mapping – proof of concept

  1. I’ve seen some pretty advanced work done within my department on mapping and overlaying data. It uses OS maps, rather than any of the free online offerings, to provide greater detail. Plan, I think, is to use data sets on locations of courts, prisons, police stations etc but there may be some crossover. Mail me and I’ll put you in touch with them.

  2. Here’s an example of a London Crime Map. We’ve been adding crimes over the last week. Just click on the icons to get more information about the crimes and the source.

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  6. In the Netherlands, the website shows a map of crime data, based on police bulletins — a cool, gis-sy, way of looking at various aspects of crime.

  7. Jon

    Have a look at

    You’ll need to enter a Birmingham postcode though – B1 1AA would be as good as any to start with.

  8. mattmanland

    Fantastic initiative.From dealings with google (we have recently completed a bundled layer with the GE software, it sounds as if GE is nearing being browser based – so no initial software downloads. This would really further open up audiences to rich applications of display data.

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  10. One of the attractions (there were many) of the old style (now changed and arguably less effective) site was that it allowed mapping by communities of interest rather than communities of geography (i.e the Americans for some obscure reason consider tenpin bowling a sport, the site allowed mapping of crime at tenpin bowling alleys).

    The West Midlands Police site is getting a lot of airtime at the moment, but provides a strictly limited degree of detail, doesn’t make use of google satelite mapping, is not easily understandable and doesn’t appear to allow for segmentation by interest. In short it is still driven by what the organisation thinks is appropriate and digestable, not by the customer.

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  12. Try our interactive InstantAtlas delivery of crime data where you can visualise crime data ‘dashboard style’ to understand it from different perspectives using tables, charts and maps:

    In my opinion this discussion on ‘crime mapping’ is poorly named. ‘Maps’ have suddenly become the be-all-and-end-all, the optimum way to get crime data to the masses. This whole area should be about the ‘public reporting of crime information’ in its broadest sense. As such it should adopt all the best principles of graphics & design, data visualisation, statistical presentation and mapping – see for more.

    Delivering data as maps, while obviously appropriate for spatially dispersed data like crime incidents, is just one technique for visualising data. Maps have significant flaws – they are often tricky to use for casual, non-expert users. More importantly, they are far from easy to interpret effectively. Most people will find it far easier to intepret simple charts, tables and text telling them about levels of crime in their area of interest. This appears to be widely overlooked.

    Putting data on maps and publishing them online has been around for 10+ years. Indeed many crime mapping specialists are amazed at the crime examples being touted as something new – they were doing this many years ago.

    ‘Crime mapping’ is in serious danger of being over-hyped as the panacea for communicating crime data – effective ‘public crime reporting’ should be the focus of all this attention. As such it should be closely linked to the current work by the Audit Commission on ‘Use of Information’ that includes a recent report on Reporting Performance Information to the Citizen.


  13. Reinier de Wit (advisor Dutch Board of Chief Commissioners)

    Crime mapping seems a promising concept. But I notice a focus mainly on technichal solutions. Can anyone give more detailed information about the real effect of crime mapping? Is it really helpful in getting communities involved in local crime policy and making the police accountable for it’s actions (and ‘non-actions’)? Do people really use crime maps and do they use them in the way as expected by the authorities who launch them? And: does crime mapping in the end have any substantial effect on lowering crime rates?
    Findings with the concept of reassurance policing show that applying good instruments in practice is not that easy. There’s more to it than a fancy Google application (or whatever software-solution). That’s only the start. Both the police and communities have to be able to work with it in ‘the real world’.
    Finally: how do you tackle the ‘privacy aspects’?

  14. Whilst in principle I welcome the idea, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed here:

    * Crime and Perception of Crime are quite wildly unrelated – historically, the links between the levels of crime and the actual perception are not strongly correlated. Therefore, what’s to suggest that such maps will have a dent in people’s day to day perceptions of crime on the ground?
    * Economic Effects – with people able to map more accurately the areas subject to the most crime, it will undoubtledly have an effect on the economies of the area. Before now, whilst people have had a general idea of the undesirable areas to live in towns and cities, it has not been so specific. If people know *exactly* where to avoid when purchasing property, is there potentially a risk that such ideas may contribute to the creation of ‘ghettos’ or ‘no-go areas’ of Britain? In a related note, many perceptions of ‘no-go’ areas are down to a small number of individuals rather than communities at large – how is this going to be represented?
    * Diversity within offences – many offences can be covered under some offences. Criminal Damage is a case in point with one police officer I spoke to saying “it can cover almost anything from blowing up a car down to drawing on a table”. In reporting such crimes, there’s the potential for them to be mis-represented, creating an inaccurate picture of the levels and nature of crime in areas.
    * The justice system distorts crime statistics – within the CPS, crimes that often constitue (and therefore should be prosecuted under) Grevious Bodily Harm (GBH) are often lowered to those of Actually Bodily Harm (ABH) in the ‘public interest’ due to the cost involved and the likelihood of conviction. As a result, there is a danger that more serious crimes would be under-represented in such maps, presenting a less representative picture of safety.

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  16. Matthis Barkhausen

    I actually always admired Great Britain for an open minded, free type of lifestyle.Now I am painfully reminded of the use of IBM-built and supported Hollerith-Mmachines in the german genocide in the 1930`s. So, that`s it for my plans moving to Great Britain and hello big brother for u over there- I thought germany was bad, but thats a LOT nastier…

  17. Matthis Barkhausen

    And, actually lookong at one off the links relatedtocrime mapping in London, one can only say: congrats- you are already lost

  18. Very interesting work, but I offer this cautionary tale:

    A friend of mine showed his Mum GE a few years ago, and she was fascinated, delighted, amazed, etc.
    He called her on Monday (After the sunday visit and having installed it on her home PC) but kept getting an engaged tone.
    When he eventually got through, he asked how come:
    “I was on the phone to the police”
    “What’s the matter?”
    “I was looking at our house on the Google Earth you gave me.”
    “There are some boys on the railway line at the back of the house and the express will be through any minute.”

    never underestimate people’s ability to assume we’re flying before we’ve figured out how to walk.

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