Mapping Crime: Are you feeling safe in your neighbourhood?

The Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police Authority (MET) developed a site where you can check the city crime map (following NYC and other cities experiments). It shows interactively where crime is occurring at a local neighbourhood level, providing all crime stats in the area. This crime mapping includes burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. It also allows the user to find local police, to check the safest neighbourhoods, to report a crime online or to send the Met’s a question or message, among others. It uses Google maps and the platform is still in progress.

However, it can be a useful local e-government initiative. Citizens can verify their residential areas crime, but also, be “closer” to the London police. Globally speaking, the project goals are clearly informing citizens, but also diminishing local crime and augmenting the feeling of security and trust in law enforcing agents. Of course it can’t show with perfect accuracy the real local situation, considering that crimes must be reported to be presented. In addition, as the website emphasizes sometimes victims can’t describe with precision the exact place where the crime occurred. Nonetheless, having the possibility to file crimes through the Internet might contribute to raise crime reports…that consequently might make the picture worse….and therefore augment fear. But, maybe I’m extrapolating too much…This is just a tool (that can even be used by criminals :-): it won’t reduce crime on its own. It must be part of a wide strategy…and I hope it is.

Some examples with Westminster postcode:

I also found Wikicrimes that allows checking crimes in different countries. This collaborative platform was conceived by Vasco Furtado, Professor at University of Fortaleza, Brazil. The technological infrastructure is provided by IVIA.
Quick historical note:
Crime mapping history definitely includes sociologi
sts from the so called Chicago School. In the beginning of the 19th century, urban sociologists from the University of Chicago started to use maps as a visual tool to illustrate the spatial distribution of social problems in the city. In this group we can find Park and Burgess, who developed the concentric circles model (The City, 1925), supporting the theory of human/social ecology. The concentric circles consist in a diagram that shows different zones in the city, zones that expand from the CBD (central business district). The theory illustrates five concentric zones. These zones are defined by their residential composition, moving from the very poor and socially deviant, in the inner zone of transition to a peripheral suburban commuter ring. So, areas of social and physical deterioration concentrate near the city centre and more wealthy areas located near the city's boundary. This theory aims to explain the existence of social problems such as unemployment and crime in specific Chicago areas. Shaw and McKay (Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas, 1969), also part of the Chicago Sociology group, constructed several maps to show the location of the residences of more than 10,000 male delinquents. Shaw and McKay observed that the spatial distribution of juvenile delinquents’ houses stayed constant over the years. They seek to demonstrate that crime was a normal response to social characteristics of a community, sustaining the Social Disorganization theory. However, as I’m extending myself too much on the earlier contributes of sociologists to crime mapping ;-), crime maps go back to 1829. Borden Dent in “Brief History of Crime Mapping” shows that its origins can be found in France. In 1829, Adriano Balbi and André Michel Guerry (a geographer and a lawyer with passion for statistics) created three choropleth maps showing the relationship between violent and property crimes and educational levels (later called “moral statistics”). Of course, that with computers and new technologies (locative media, for instance, have been essential), new techniques and tools for mapping crime were developed and improved.

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