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Government's Crime Maps nonsense

Another lamentable trendy initiative from Gordon Brown

I live in a quiet, pretty street just a couple of hundred yards from a lush park where it's common to bump into London mayor Boris Johnson out for a jog or game of tennis.

We do have one nutter ("Cider-Man") living on the street but he's harmless enough, as long as he's taken his meds and remembered to put some trousers on before wandering down the road with his can of super-strength apple juice and giant pack of cigarettes.

200 steps in the other direction, however, is Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, and a bit further along snakes the grim Holloway Road.

Each location is quite distinct, but will soon be linked and equally damned by a new governmental idea to let people know how dangerous it is to step out of your house.

Doomed prime minister Gordon Brown is supporting plans to create online maps comparing areas' crime and police performance and local "community champions" (whatever they might be).

Each month new crimes will be uploaded to these local maps, showing what an awful, violent world we live in.

Brown says: "Too many people don't believe the system is on their side."

How is an online map showing crimes going to help with that, Gordon? It's the sort of laughable response we've come to expect from the UK government - another website (the government has hundreds already, with very few visitors) rather than real police officers or practical local initiatives.

It's a hands-off response that will make every street in London - and probably most cities - look like a scene from ‘Escape from New York’.

That said, it's not just the people-shy New Labour fools proposing such nonsense. Even Mayor Boris himself supported such an idea in his manifesto, although he did back it up with a promise of more officers with truncheons at the ready.

Boris and I will see our quiet streets on the crime maps covered in red spots every time there's fight outside a kebab shop on the Holloway Road or a disturbance at an Arsenal game... or, I admit, if Cider-Man aims one of his rants at someone not in the mood to just walk by, or my daughter drops an apple core out of her buggy.

It might work at an intense micro level, but lumping all our streets into bulging crime areas really won't show us a thing.

Burglars and muggers could study the maps, and look not at the hot spots that they'd know the cops were checking but the low-crime areas - better to target such areas where "the pickings will be richer and the residents less street-wise", as a reader pointed out at The Telegraph.

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