Thursday, 24 February 2011

Crime mapping in Wake Green Park!

At the beginning of this month a new website came into existence: is a 'local crime and policing website'.

You are presented with this screen first and asked to enter an area or post code. I've entered B13 9XU in Wake Green Park's case.

It will then take you to a page where you can view the contact details of Moseley local police which includes the phone number and the names of the local police men and women.

AND it also displays the crime map! At the moment the crime data displayed relates to December 2010. There seems to be plans to update this data every month, and if that is the case the map is due an update now. And there has been suggestions that the previous month's data will be removed upon updating which isn't a great idea as it would be interesting to see more than one month's data and also to be able to make comparisons in the crime rate.

Above is the crimes recorded in the immediate vicinity of Wake Green Park. It's nice to see no crime data concerning the park itself!

There is one recorded house burglary on Belle Walk in December 2010.

HOWEVER! There is a bit of a furore about the accuracy of the data in the crime maps. This article in The Guardian gives some more insight in to the uproar; Crime Maps Are 'worse than usless' Claim Developers.

From The Guardian's website: "The newly released crime maps site are a fundamentally unreliable source of information, because they are subject to unreported changes by the police forces compiling them both before and after they are displayed, and the data will not be stored on the site for comparison over time, observers say."

The same article also lists 5 key flaws in the data from Jonathan Raper:

• Locations used are approximate (so that "top 10 crime streets" may actually be places which have had no crime).
• Data for streets with fewer than 12 postal addresses is apparently not recorded "to protect privacy".
• Some data such as sexual offences and murder is removed – even though it would be easy to discover and locate from other police reports.
• Data covers reported crimes rather than convictions, so some of it may turn out not to be crime.
• The levels of policing are not provided, so that two areas with the "same" crime levels may in fact have "radically different" experiences of crime and policing.

So, to sum up, the website does have a lot of potential to be really useful, especially when it comes to moving house into a new area. But, it needs to be more accurate and display the location of (all) crimes more precisely otherwise the map is bascially misleading in it's information. It needs to store all the data accumulated and not delete one month's data to replace with another.

I guess, at best, at least for the time being, it's more of a guide to crime in the area, and should be treated as such until improvements are made.

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