Category Archives: Crime

Crime Mapping Coverage

The Home Office has announced that crime mapping is now available for all 43 Police forces in England and Wales.

These have been implemented on a force by force basis so there is not as yet a consistent way to access each of them. You are instead advised:

To see a crime map for your area, go to the website of your local force and search for ‘crime map’.

To facilitate this, a full list of links to the individual Police force sites is available on the national Police website.

Feedback on the different implementations would be interesting to inform the next steps for crime mapping development.

It should also be an objective of this process to create better availability and consistency of the underlying crime data sets so that other parties can innovate with their own versions of crime maps.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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A Collection of Crime Data

We have been mapping out the landscape for crime data in the UK and the list of sources for England and Wales we have come across is below.  We don’t pretend this is comprehensive or 100% accurate (e.g. some references are to specific time data from a couple of months ago) so if you have any additions/corrections please make them by comment to this post.

A central initiative has been announced by the Home Secretary for all Police forces to produce some crime maps by December of this year. We hope this initiative will deliver some good results.  While innovation by anyone else who has ideas about how best to present and mash crime data would be helpful in this process.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

Local Crime Information Delivery on Police Websites

Avon and Somerset

http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/information/CrimeStats/DisplayStatistics.aspx?lid=207&t=3

http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/information/CrimeStats/DisplayStatistics.aspx?t=1&lid=1

Bedfordshire

http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/crimeinfo/crimefigures/documents/july2008/county_april_july.pdf

http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/crimeinfo/crimefigures/documents/july2008/luton_april_july.pdf

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London Crime Mapping Live

We saw the official launch of the Metropolitan crime mapping service this week after a few weeks of beta presence online.

The FAQ page covers the issue of data protection that we discussed on this blog a while back. The relevant Q+As are:

Has the Information Commissioners Office been consulted in respect of the MPS approach?

Yes. The MPS has consulted fully with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and the ICO is satisfied that the MPS has considered the data protection issues in crime mapping and that there are sufficient safeguards in terms of protecting the identity of victims of crime in relation to burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. The MPS will continue to seek advice from the ICO as the site continues to be developed.

In the USA crimes are published at street level and to a “point of occurrence”. Why can’t the MPS maps do the same?

In the UK the MPS is bound by the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act. The MPS is not allowed to publish data that may inadvertently identify a living individual with that data; to do so would be in direct contravention of these Acts. These acts ensure that individuals and victims physical safety and emotional well-being are protected. The MPS has worked closely with the Information Commissioners Office to ensure full compliance with legislation governing which and in what form crimes can be released.

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MapTube, Crime and Privacy

Chris Osborne posted a comment to an earlier entry drawing our attention to a MapTube project mapping crime in London. This deserves a fuller article as it demonstrates a number of interesting points.

1. MapTube itself is worth a mention. This initiative from UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is a great demonstrator of the power of map-based information. There is a mass of interesting information and tools behind MapTube with the GeoVue project of particular interest. The GMapCreator software that has been created as part of this is useful for Google Maps mashers.

2. Privacy has come up as an issue for the Power of Information agenda. We have set ourselves the task of only dealing with data that is not personal. In most cases the distinction is clear, but there are areas such as crime mapping where there is some uncertainty about whether publishing detailed information would have implications in terms of data protection law. The point to consider is the extent to which individuals, especially victims, can be identified when details of individual crime incidents are shown. This quote from the Data Protection Act 1998 tells us when data has to be regarded as personal:

“personal data” means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified—
(a) from those data, or
(b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller,

The issue for some uses of apparently anonymous public data is in this second clause, i.e. does it relate to a real person when the data is combined with other information. The quantity of data now available online and the very power of Web 2.0 technologies makes it increasingly likely that data can be linked up to identify an individual.

The MapTube crime map links through pins to published newspaper articles which name individual crime victims. In the cases shown on the map, the victims are tragically deceased and therefore outside the specific definition of personal data, but this does provide a graphic illustration of the general phenomenon of linkage of crimes to victims that is worrying the regulators.
Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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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

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Crime Data for Mapping

There is much interest in publishing data about crime in ways which are accessible and useful to the public. In the data mashing world, this discussion naturally centres on the uses involving mapping as people have seen the examples of geographically presented data from the USA.

The Task Force has started to look into this subject. We are building a picture of the different data sources that are available and how they are currently presented on the internet.

The Home Office publish two main sources of crime data, the British Crime Survey (BCS) and police recorded crime. The BCS data provides national and regional trends. This is very high level and can have only general relevance to someone in their home trying to work out levels of crime in their neighbourhood. Police recorded crime is published annually at Basic Command Unit, Local Authority and Crime and Disorder Partnership levels, but none of these are fine enough to give information on crime levels in a person’s immediate neighbourhood.

Police Forces in England and Wales will publish in July this year more granular information on the crimes they record (so-called ‘recorded crime’). In particular the data should be localised and in some cases geo-tagged and catetgorised by types of crime. Each of the 43 forces will publish its own data. Some forces and third parties such as academics are already experimenting with online crime maps. We have put links in the rolling list of sites here.

The Taskforce will be working with Home Office, the police and other partners on how to present these fascinating new data sets in a form that is mashable. We are interested to hear from the mash up community, the police, academics, citizens, neighbourhood watch teams or anyone interested in crime mapping on what uses this could be put to and what issues to look out for. Please use the comment fucntion below to get in touch and start a discussion.

Article by Task Force Secretariat.

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