back to article Boris' crime map plan comes unstuck

Boris Johnson's manifesto pledge to provide detailed crime maps of London has hit problems with privacy regulators. The London Mayor promised to introduce "New York-style crime maps which show the true crime levels in every neighbourhood". But the Information Commissioner's Office is worried about victims' privacy and possible …


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  1. Tom Chiverton

    Help us out here

    Where is the privacy problem in saying 'In postcode X there were Y incidents of crime Z' ?

  2. hans
    Thumb Up

    carbon maps, crime maps

    We will soon see where the least populated areas are, the richest of those areas and whether the plods are paying it any attention befotre going on an 'unexpected' crime spree.

    Honest guv the ctrime map showed 0 so we dunt put no plods there ...

    Farking brill me old son!

  3. Matt


    "Various websites do offer crime statistics for New York and other US cities almost as they happen."

    Draw your own conclusions! Mind you it's the reporting a few seconds before the crime happens that worry me.

  4. Jack Harrer


    "Information from such sites has famously been repurposed - if you can find out exactly where people are often arrested for selling drugs then you have a pretty good idea of which neighbourhoods to go to in order to buy them."

    They should add it to and google maps. So you can have that nice baloon showing most probable dealer hotspots. That would mean also that you wouldn't be able to see any streets, or anything in that matter, in Camden Town and Brixton ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    The obvious

    "Information from such sites has famously been repurposed - if you can find out exactly where people are often arrested for selling drugs then you have a pretty good idea of which neighbourhoods to go to in order to buy them."

    This would clearly be a useful feature to integrate into google maps, and so on. You could place the tick box right next to the ones for highlighting train stations, bus stations, etc.

  6. dervheid

    So, let me get this straight...

    BJ wants to produce a map showing crime statistics (on balance, likely to be considered a 'Good Thing'), the ICO starts bleating on about "victims' privacy and possible data protection issues".

    BT and Phorm conduct extremely dubious software tests involving massive unsolicited monitoring of thousands of peoples internet connection without getting their permission or informing them they were going to do this (on balance, likely to be considered a 'Bad Thing'), and the ICO does sweet fuck all.

    Is it any wonder people think these c**ts are all corrupt to the core!

    Icon, as the ICO is a joke!

  7. StillNoCouch
    Paris Hilton

    I can sort-of understand this one

    I think it really depends on the level of detail of the maps in question. You make a very good point about knowing where to go to buy drugs, find hookers, etc., although, some of us might view this more as an additional service or feature, rather than a draw-back.

    Do they publish the actual street address ? Having a "Domestic Assault" at 123 Anystreet might be a little invasive ... having a "Domestic Assault" within 100m of 123 Anystreet might be a little invasive too.

    Additionally, what about the poor smucks whom may have bought 123 Anystreet from that newly divorced couple ? Are their property values then deflated from the former's actions ?

    I think the devil is in the details on this one. To what degree of granularity ? If anyone's in the know, clue me in.

    Paris: Because she doesn't have a clue either.

  8. Ian Ferguson

    "almost as they happen"

    Fantastic - if we tag all criminals (and persistently reoffending victims) with GPS / RFID chips, and ask them to text a premium rate number whenever they commit a crime, we can have a state-of-the-art live crime map online for all to see!

    Better still, could they also plot the locations of police officers so the public can know in advance what the likely response time will be? And maybe borrow the 'choose-and-book' technology from the NHS, so we can choose to be responded to with the ordinary bobby, highway patrol, community support officer or bomb disposal squad of our choice?

    Who knew technology could be put to such good use.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    its a stupid idea...when people will look at this map to see good areas to move in to within london, it iwll inevetiably make certain areas of london a no-go area. Its just creating the situation of 'us' and 'them' (rich,poor)

    he should spend more effort in tackling the issues

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Met already publishes ... ???

    "The Metropolitan Police already publishes maps of crimes not only by borough but also by individual ward."

    Which are ... exactly, how accurate? Bearing in mind that the police make it far far too hard to report crimes in the first place.

    And the one thing that might have made it easier ... a web site intended for that purpose ... was turned OFF, presumably because it was making it too easy for people to report crimes and therefore "worsen" the artificial figures that the police WANTED to publish.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I've seen this.....

    .... the Met Version.

    Working. With real data.

    It had nothing to do with BoJo the clown. It was already being worked on for ages before, BoJo just made it a plegde and got lucky in the sense that it was already working before the election.

    The only thing that concerns me is that a visual representation will encourage house prices in certain areas to go into freefall as the red areas (high crime) are highlighted. Funnily enough anywhere near a train station (Underground or National) seems to have higher ratings than other parts of the boroughs but overall the map has average crime levels.

    I suppose we will have to wait and see if this makes the police take less action in the red areas to reduce reported crime or tackle stupid things in the whole of London to raise the baseline average......

    Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jac Harrer

    Isn't that what the web 2.0 crowd call a mashup?

  13. Steve
    Dead Vulture


    Please add this to the list of banned words. Thanks.

  14. David Pollard

    Street knowledge, innit

    I don't claim to have particular expertise in this area, but aren't the crims already quite well informed through informal channels as to which areas are being targeted by so-called crackdowns? Jacqui and Boris both might do more to reduce crime by thinking about the problems than shouting about the symptoms.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Political games again

    Council do thermal maps showing the HEAT USAGE of every house and that caused no problem for the 'Privacy Watchdog' (an 'independant' Quango appointed by the

    Yet Boris wants to release a crime map and that's a privacy problem?

    It smacks of more dirty politics.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Where is the privacy problem in saying 'In postcode X there were Y incidents of crime Z' ?"

    A postcode covers typically 2-10 houses. "At 3-7 Straw Street there was one incident of child abuse", and you live at number 7. Happy?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Location based services?

    Is this finally the killer app for location based services? Even better if you can get it to mesh with the actual arrest data.

    Nokia/Google Crime-map:

    In the last year at your current location there have been:

    - 20 break-ins

    - 0 arrests.

    Enjoy. Courtesy of BJ.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Met Police Maps...

    "The Metropolitan Police already publishes maps of crimes not only by borough but also by individual ward."

    I'd like a look at those - how about a link, Reg?

    Plus a correlation to:

    1. How many plods on beat/cars?

    2. Average income?

    3. Number of Schools and Failure/pass rates?

    4. Number of complaints of Police brutality/Excessive-force/wrongful imprisonment?

    5. Number of spy cameras?

    6. Number of immigrants?

    7. How active are the local MPs/councillors?

    That would make for a good read...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    How about

    A map of where the police are instead (then you'll know if it's safe to take photographs).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ no go areas

    Christ! You'd end up with, like, 'good' areas and 'bad' areas?!? All the rich people would, like, live in the good areas, and, like, the poor people would live in the 'bad' areas?!? There would be, like, some areas where a flat would cost, like, a million pounds, and other places where they're dead cheap (a mere £200K).

    People having the slightest inclination of which areas are good and which areas are bad would COMPLETELY change the whole nature of the city, I mean it'd end up that all the rich people would want to live in say Mayfair, and Peckham would become a poor crime-ridden shithole!


  21. Blasmeme


    This is a great idea. Now all the crooks can see which streets have been burgled the most in the past and estimate:

    1. which ones will likely have alarm systems fitted on account of a local theft problem.

    2. predict which houses likely have lots of juicey pickings as the street has never been burgled and the residents and police will be complacent.

    And any map that tells you where you can score some drugs is a good thing in my book. It would really take the hassle out of asking your mates who their dealer is.

    Burn London, burn.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    if you as a citizen of a bad area had your mits on easy to obtain factual data about crime in your street you would find it easier to press your case that your area is not being properly supported.

    If the met (or other police forces) just give out wolly statistics about larger regions and use classic police (we'll ignore these ones, make these ones up and add these resolutions for good measure) then you can't do anything with them.

    That's probably the reason this idea is unpopular at an authority level, becouse it is an enabler for the citizenry to get something done.

  23. Gordon Pryra

    great idea

    Anything that improves the value of my house, at the expense of all those who never went to school is a GOOD thing.

    I don't see what the problem is. Until such time as we can surgically "fix" the poor and stupid, then stuffing them in reservations is a good short term fix.

    We can also ensure that NHS cash is given to the people that actually pay for it!!!

    And what sort of hypocrisy is the ICO spouting?

    They all need hard jail time and a public beating

    Go Borris, get your jack-boots on and stomp their lying corrupt faces into the mud!!!

  24. Liz Fuhr
    Black Helicopters


    So, the Met Police do a crime map and that's fine. Jacqui Smith anounces plans for a crime map and that's fine. BJ says he wants a crime map and "eek can't do that, invasion of privacy!".

    So what's the difference between HIS crime map, and theirs? Nothing to do with politics I suppose......

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 13:18

    The Met's crime maps are here:

    And the stats are here:

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Map where the police are

    How about a Rozzer crime map?

    A map showing where a vehicle is stolen is one thing, but I'd like to see a map where rozzers confiscate vehicles. A map where random stop and searches are common, a map they detain photographers map. A map where people get arrested in their own homes, ASBOs are dished up heavily. etc.

    Thinking about it, I've been mugged zero times, but hit in the kidneys by an officer once, so in terms of violent crimes, it's safer for me to avoid areas where there are police.

    In terms of stops, I've been search 6 times by officer (pale gaunt foreign accent = assumed to be druggy) before I left the UK for good, and only ever stopped once by a persistent Mormon trying to sell me watchtower, so in terms of stops, I'm better off avoiding high police concentrationareas.

    In terms of stuff lost, I had t shirts seized at the airport (suspected fake brand, loss of about 20 quid) vs a stolen credit card with 20 quid spent before I managed to cancel it. So that's a draw.

    In terms of potential damage, well I can get stabbed by a thug, but I could get tazered to death or shot by an officer. Not sure which is more likely, so I'd prefer to avoid both high violent civil crime and high concentrations of officers.

    Personally, I can understand why kids form gangs and get guns and knives to protect themselves rather than trust the police to do it.

  27. Paul Taylor

    but which streets?

    Thanks for the links to the Met's crime maps, but basically they're only suitable for bean counters.

    I can't make much use of the info on house breaking, but it would be useful to know whether I'm more likely to be mugged in such-and-such a street on the way home from the station, or in the parallel one.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re child abuse/domestic violence

    With such a system there should of course be things that are not reported on the site. These are things that do not affect the other residents of an area, Child Abuse (within the family) and Domestic Violence, whilst horrendous crimes do not directly affect those in the street, they are also things that require a certain level of descretion.

    The people managing such a system would need two things, 1) a good set of guidlines, and 2) common sense and intelligence. However neither has been present in government or institutional (police, schools, councils) levels for at least two decades.

    There is a distinct difference in other kinds of events, rapes, child abduction(I only mention that becouse it's a popular piece of hysteria - but an increadibly low occurance), murders, are often the acts of a single person and vary in their geographical preferences (some liking to only lurk in a small area they know well, other liking to roam a far.) Statistics on such events would be of little help to the common citizen beyond "please be careful as there is a serial rapist/peadophile/murderer active in this are."

    Those are different to things like "gang" crime, burgluries, robberies, stabbings, alchol related incidents and drug related incidents, which tend to cluster around vulnerable areas and people.

    But we do have to return to the previous points of competents of any current day public institution (or lack there of) to not only run such a system but to also respond correctly, appropriatly and in a useful manner to the information generated.

    The responce in my area is to put signs up in areas of high crime... I personally would have thought a police presence and the creation of things to do besides throwing stones at buses and stealing cars would have been the thing to do. But no cardboard signs are apparently far more effective...

  29. Anonymous Coward


    i have now repurposed that as reporpoised. happy now

  30. trackSuit

    AI new Sustainable Development Scheme?

    "Thanks for the links to the Met's crime maps, but basically they're only suitable for bean counters." By Paul Taylor, Posted Wednesday 25th June 2008 17:07 GMT

    Operator error causes a well publicised glitch in the stats for one or more housing areas. House prices drop... the rest you can Imagine.

    Another Quantum String to push / pull for Common dodgy bodgers and RobotIQs. Can also be used 4 Entanglement and Entrapment 2.

  31. Muppet
    Black Helicopters

    Seen it, done it

    We spent several months developing such a system for one of the UK's forces. Crimes in this country are categorised by various home office classes and sub-classes so you could get a general impression of type of crime, e.g., Violent, Theft, Motor Vehicle, "Other" etc. for an area. Depending on the recording systems used, we had data down to the nearest meter, but that obviously depends on how well the crime is recorded in the first place.

    We produced a system that you could drill down by crime type and by geographic area, viewing crimes, detections, sanctioned detections and so on. We also took it further to allow you to view officer "performance" - number of arrests, stop and searches, hours worked etc., etc. Basically a big old data-mining exercise all from a pretty intranet front-end.

    There was certainly talk of putting that information online for the general public at some point - although the point of "Child abuse at numbers 3-7" was certainly looked at and we would either have simply not included that data or would not have allowed you to drill that far down into the crime groupings.

    All forces are required to submit pretty detailed crime statistics - usually by ward and crime grouping and they often partner with local government for "safer streets" type activities.

    If you want to know specific information, you could always file a FOI request. They love doing that sort of thing...

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