Online maps showing where crimes occur; too much information?
The police have created maps of where crime and antisocial behaviour occur and are putting them online. Anyone will be able to access this new resource that allows users to check on how many reported incidents there have been breaking the figures down into different types of crime. The maps are relevant to people in a way that national crime statistics cannot be so helping to create transparency and police accountability. However there are worries. The information could mean that people avoid some areas and result in house prices falling. Residents in areas that are affected by high crime rates may also worry that the maps will have other knock on effects such as insurance companies charging higher premiums.
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it's a waste of money considering the budget cuts
The site cost 300,000 GBP to set up[[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8295303/Britains-most-crime-ridden-streets-revealed-by-police-map.html]]. There is relatively little benefit in having this information available when at the same time front line police officers are being cut due to public spending cut backs. There are said to be over 10,000 police officer jobs lost by 2013 [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12375310]] With this statistic, surely we can see that the money would have been better spent on our police officers rather than a website for the public. There is no point knowing where crime occurs if we do not have the police officers to deal with it.
The source that you use [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12375310]] to picture the projected police losses is from Labour research. Given they are the opposition party that has always been negative towards the cuts in public spending, it is no wonder that they are scaremongering. Besides, another way of looking at it is this; if we know where the crime is occurring, we will know where to place our officers more efficiently and so we will need less of them as the ones that we do have we will deploy more effectively.
insurance companies will use the information to the public's detriment
Whilst house prices decrease and people lose out on money that way, there is another way in which people in crime swarmed areas will suffer; insurance premiums[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/feb/01/online-crime-maps-power-hands-people]]. If insurers know that an area suffers from burgulary, they will higher the premiums accordingly. This will result in a double loss. Bearing in mind that the areas mostly effected by crime are poorer areas, these are people who cannot afford such a double loss.
Insurance companies will have to do this. They do not give insurance to make a loss. If some is more likely to make a claim, then they need to charge more to cover the payouts in their claims. This is the nature of insurance. They should have all the information to hand to make a proportionate estimate of risk. If we look at this in the alternative, other areas which are not so adversely effected by crime will see their premiums reduce.
it will create 'ghetto' like communities
A horrible cycle will occur after the initiation of this website. As people move out of the areas with high crime rates, people who cannot afford to live elsewhere will tumble in. As crime is associated with the poor, these areas will thus suffer from more crime. This will further detriment the area and house prices will fall causing yet more poverty. Under such circumstances resentment from the local community will follow and the community will become a ghetto like structure; forming their own sub-culture. Such criminal subcultures have been the subject of many studies by sociologists such as Phil Cohen and Fredrick Thrasher. They also cited the effect that having a large collection of poor people would have as they begin to move away from societies norms and form their own set of norms which include crime and delinquency[[http://law.jrank.org/pages/954/Delinquent-Criminal-Subcultures.html]].
it will lower the value of properties in that area
When looking at where to buy a house, people will look at all the information they have to hand. A house is the most expensive purchase a person is likely to make in their life time. With these street by street crime maps, people will begin to avoid place where high crime takes place. This will mean that certain areas will be avoided by property buyers and therefore prices will fall in those areas. This could be devastating for people who have already bought their house on that street as they see the value of their property plummet. This could lead to their mortgage exceeding the value of the house and could leave people in negative equity – given that this was the cause of the recession; this is not a good sign at all.
it will inform criminals as to where they can commit crime with less chance of being caught
This map that looks at each street and tells of the recorded crimes in recent times could inform criminals as to where they will be able to commit crime. Using the maps, they can see where the most crime occurs and at what times. Therefore, they will know that if they commit a crime on particular streets that have high crime rates, they will have less chance of getting caught. There will be more suspects in the area and so there will be less of a percentage chance of them getting caught.
Alternatively, criminals will look at the maps and avoid the places where there is a higher crime rate[[http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100074312/crime-maps-will-show-that-crime-is-the-worst-postcode-lottery-of-all/]]. They will know that the police would be targeting that area and so there will be more police around, thus increasing the likelihood of them being caught. Being that criminals could take this information and use it in different ways, it is no different to all the other ways in which criminals choose the place in which they will commit crimes. Criminals will use the information available differently, and so it will have little overall effect.
it will encourage local crime watch teams
When crime is hidden away from the public, the public are less likely to do something about crime; they will not realise the extent of the problem and how crime is effecting their area. If people knew how many crimes were occurring in their area, they would be more inclined to do something about it. This is truly giving the public an opportunity to take responsibility for their area. The website [[police.uk]] also has information on local crime watch meetings. It is suspected that all this information together will lead to the public taking crime into their own hands and taking preventative measures.
it will help us identify where our police budget should be spent
As the budget is being cut, we will need to know how to spend the budget that we are left with. We are said to lose 20,000 civilian staff, 4,000 community support officers and 35,000 police officers [[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1288985/BUDGET-2010-Four-courts-close-police-stations-axed-Osbornes-savage-budget-cuts.html]] with this being so we need to know where best to place the remaining resources. If we know where the crime is occurring, we will know where to place the police officers. The public can then see if the police are being put in the wrong places and advocate against it.
it will make the police more accountable
We have long been left without recourse when it comes to knowing how the police are dealing with crime. The public had too little information in their area to understand the issues. If crime continues to happen at high levels in certain areas, the public will be able to see this and speak up against it[[http://www.metro.co.uk/news/854257-online-crime-map-could-be-guide-for-crooks]]. Crime for too long has been a dirty secret hid under the carpet, people need to know whats going on in their local area in order to effect change.
It will help people decide were to live
This would help people make informed decisions when they are moving in to an area if that is really a good place for their family to live and work.
What do you think?