The Home Office has recently published maps detailing monthly crime statistics, allowing you to enter your postcode and look at a map displaying the level of crime in your area. The site has already crashed thanks to the volume of traffic it generated when launched. The Home Office hopes this will become a “key stone in accountability”, allowing citizens access to information and crime updates quickly and easily.
What is this website really trying to achieve? The Home Office wants to allow people more access to the information that really affects them. However, police.uk prevents you from viewing the actual crimes, giving no indication to the severity of the offence. There is no way to find out if there has been an arrest or prosecution. All the website allows you to see is the number of crimes reported, nothing more.
inspired sense of community
According to The Guardian’s website, some tough estates are mysteriously empty of crime, not because it is not happening but because the police are uncomfortably overstretched and crimes in that area simply do not make it to the paperwork stage. You are unable to see the actual location of a crime, as a helpful asterisk informs you “to protect privacy, crimes are mapped on or near the road where they occurred”, which seems pretty contradictory after publishing them in the first place.
Perhaps, as is hoped, the website will instil a technologically inspired sense of community back into towns and cities. Using this site will allow neighbours and streets to hold the police to account and to engage more actively with their local force.
Yet, the likelihood is that those having frequent dialogues with the police are not of the internet generation, but rather the neighbourhood watch types. So do they need another platform, especially one as badly thought out as this?
Beyond the confirmation of a car theft three roads away from where you live, what this website actually allows you do to do is hazy. Most of the traffic from the day it crashed was no doubt people – like myself – essentially playing a neighbourhood crime version of top trumps.
Although leading to a few minutes’ amusement, police.uk will not provide the accountability the Met claims. Instead, it is yet another instance of our Government’s quest for endless amounts of pointless data which we, the taxpayer, have to foot the bill for.