Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Metropolitan Police - Crime Mapping

The Metropolitan Police Service posted a Crime Map website for London , last week.
Few hours later, the website crashed because millions of curious people logged in to see what were the crime rates and the types of crimes in their boroughs and post codes.
Due to the high traffic to the site and the high demand for its contents, the website has been restored.
My colleagues and I logged on before the site crashed and it was fascinating to see the crime reports of the various areas in London.
Surprisingly , the types of crimes and the crime rates were almost exactly what Londoners had known were the usual "tendencies" in the different sections of the city.
Before the map ,Londoners knew or could guess what were the usual crimes committed in King's Cross , Camden town , Primrose Hill or Knightsbridge post codes in London.
However, there were few pleasant surprises because of , not only the rate of crimes but the types of crimes listed as happening in some areas , hitherto viewed as "wild" or "decent".
While we clicked on the map to check out ours and our families and friends' post codes , the joke was on those staff who lived in "high rate" crime areas !
"Have you seen this? Hmm, no surprises! I have always suspected that you people in that post code were a bunch of muggers and murderers!"
It was nice to know that the crime rates in my post code and its neighboring areas were stated as "low" and our crime rate had even fallen from the previous year by 2.38%.
This low rate drew jibes from my colleagues as they alleged that people from low crime rate areas were guilty of economic crimes which were , unsurprisingly , not indicated on the crime map!

On a serious note ,it was reassuring to know that post code crimes in London were well documented because this means the Metropolitan Police , as usual are a step ahead of micreants in the City.
Some have argued that this post code crime mapping is unfair and unnecessary because it would affect the demand and prices of houses , schools and other services and it would perpetuate the already existing post-code snobbery in the City and the stereotyping of the residents of certain areas .
Most worrying point is that this mapping could cause a siege - mentality for the residents of the post codes listed as "high crime rate" areas; as many living in such areas would be alarmed and scared to see the official confirmation on this map that they have been living amongst hardened criminals!

I believe the advantages of this Police crime mapping out weigh its disadvantages.
The crime map is a vital tool for the Police and criminologists; for sociologists and local government planners.
The ability to document and tackle crimes effectively , by the Police , is a vital part of community development .
This Crime Map sends a clear message from law enforcement agencies to the anti social elements in our cities and towns that, "We are on your case!"
To sleep is an act of faith.
It helps all of us sleep better when we know that the Police are doing their duties in protecting our lives and properties.
To view the map , log unto and click on your area .

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