LONDON – England and Wales yesterday became the first countries in the world to release street-by-street information on every crime and act of anti-social behaviour reported to police.
A website, police.uk, which went live yesterday, allows anyone to search for a postcode or address and learn what crimes have been committed – down to a range of 12 houses.
The information can also be accessed on mobile phones using GPS technology, which pinpoint crimes that have taken place wherever the user is. The raw data will be made freely available to programmers and will be updated monthly.
It opens the way for smartphone applications which will find the statistically safest way to walk home.
Last December alone there were 193,685 reports in England and Wales – across the year this would equate to 2.3 million complaints. London had the highest number of reports with 34,000. Ministers believe the data will let communities hold local police to account.
However, critics warn it could allow individual crime victims to be identified and increase vigilantism.
Others say it could increase fear of crime and have a negative effect on house prices.
The scheme is part of a wider attempt to release data which can be adapted by software developers to provide useful information to the public.