Regular readers will be aware of our enthusiasm for crime mapping, demonstrated to great effect in the USA and espoused by Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral election - the idea that police should publish all reported crimes with type, date and current status on an online map.
We're very encouraged, then, to read that Jacqui Smith has today announced that crime maps will be available across the country by the end of the year. Judging by the website of the West Midlands Police crime mapping trial, the system so far isn't perfect (specific crime locations would be even better) but it's a great step forward.
As the Home Secretary says,
"The public are the best weapon in helping to fight crime and anti-social behaviour - and to do that people need to know what's going on in their area...We need to make sure that people know what's happening to crime in their neighbourhood, and how they can get involved and work with their neighbourhood police officers."
She's right about the power of informing people, and the importance of getting people involved in policing - she falls down, though, on the question of what to do about it. It's an improvement to use crime mapping to inform people, and it helps people hold the police to account, but if you want people to "get involved" why not give them democratic control over policing? We haven't hear hide nor hair of that idea from the Government yet but then again, they weren't in favour of crime mapping 12 months ago...
NEXT DAY UPDATE: I'm glad to see that today's Telegraph Leader agrees with me!