LONDON (Reuters) - An interactive map which allows the public to view what crimes are being committed in their own neighbourhoods has been launched in Britain.
Typing a postcode into the website www.police.uk will reveal the location and type of crimes which have been recorded in that area.
“We want people to be able to see what crime is happening on their street, and to be able to tell their local police if they have concerns, and challenge them about how issues are being dealt with,” said Home Secretary Theresa May in a statement.
The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “Crime Mapping can be an effective means of letting people know what crimes are taking place in their local area, although care needs to be taken as this can potentially have an impact on the privacy of individuals such as victims or witnesses.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said the aim was to help raise awareness of how the police service is working to reduce crime and disorder in communities and help reduce the fear of crime.
The map opens the way for smartphone applications which will find the statistically safest way to walk home and the streets and shortcuts to avoid.
But critics warn it could potentially allow individual crime victims to be identified and increase vigilantism. Others say it could have a negative effect on house prices.
Reporting by Hoby Wahab; Editing by Steve Addison