Metropolitan police release online crime map

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The Independent Online

The Metropolitan Police Service has released an online crime map of the Greater London area which enables users to view crime levels across the capital.

Powered by the Google Maps service, the site displays an aggregrated total of burglaries, theft and vehicle offences for all areas within the M25, excepting the City of London, which has its own police force. The Metropolitan Police Service has stated that the aim of the mapping is to provide Londoners with information about "where crime is occurring at a local neighbourhood level", whilst giving the MPS the means to evaluate the effectiveness of policing across London. The maps, which are searchable by postcode and borough, also feature the ability to compare crime figures over the past three years, and view the number of offences committed month by month.

The site is visible to the public though still in a testing stage, and represents the fifth area in the country to be crime mapped, with similar services available in the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Hampshire and Lancashire. The developments are the culmination of suggestions made by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a green paper on policing released in July, which announced that every police force in the country was to endeavour to deliver monthly crime information to the public via the internet.

Critics of the scheme claim that the release of the information could have a number of negative effects on areas involved, including lowering house price levels in high crime areas, and leading to higher crime in areas perceived as 'soft targets' due to low crime levels. The Home Secretary believes the the information is crucial in helping inform the public of crime levels at a local level, however: "The latest annual crime figures showed another drop in crime nationwide but it’s important that people understand what this means to them in their local area and where challenges remain", Jacqui Smith has claimed.