For many years, politicians annually argue over the latest crime figures published. Is crime up or down? That’s the media response as they look for an immediate headline. Yet the use of statistics in this way does little to look beneath the figures and see what the real experience is in local communities. A headline that says violent crime has risen by x%, helps spread a fear of crime, particularly amongst elderly residents, when the reality locally is a lot different.
The new website www.police.uk launched by the government goes much deeper so that you can see what is happening and where. Using new crime maps you can see what is happening in your town or village or even your own road. That transparency means you can put pressure on the police to tackle particular problems in your area. There’s no hiding the facts – if there are anti-social hotspots they will be clear to see. With the introduction of directly elected police commissioners next year, police forces will be more focussed on responding to community need then chasing centrally defined targets or filling in forms. The crime maps will be a powerful tool, for all of us to use, to make sure that becomes a reality.
3rd January 2011