People in England and Wales can now see how their local police force are faring against other cops across the country, as the government expands its crime-mapping website.
Visitors to Police.uk can check how their local bobbies are managing on crime rates, quality of service and victim satisfaction compared with the 42 other forces across England and Wales. Users can also now see details of a broader range of crimes in their area, covering over 10 categories including burglary, anti-social behaviour, shoplifting, vehicle crime and public disorder & weapons.
The website was launched initially back in February, crashing shortly after launch under the weight of traffic, and it has since had more than 430m hits. Policing Minister Nick Herbert said:
“We want to build on this success and deliver a more transparent and accountable criminal justice system.The addition of further crime categories and easy access to police force performance data will give people the information and power they need to hold their local forces to account and ensure that crime in their area is driven down.”
By the end of this year, the crime-mapping website will include the naming of specific sites, such as football stadiums, parks and supermarkets, where crime and anti-social behaviour is concentrated. And by May 2012, the website will also detail what happened after a crime was reported and track its journey through the courts.
Some critics of the website have said that mapping crime in such a way can actually be misleading, given that it relies on reported crimes, as it’s argued that people in more affluent areas are more inclined to report offences. But Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, said the website “puts powerful knowledge about policing into the hands of the public”.
A few weeks back, The Next Web reported on William Bratton, the US super-cop who’s now advising the UK’s Metropolitan Police Service in the wake of the London riots. The UK government is seeking a more data-driven policing model, and it hopes that by ‘putting cops on the dots’, the escalation in gang-related crimes can be curtailed across the country.