Friday 8 May 2009

Crime mapping

A lot of the responses to the recent hoohah about Deptford have involved comments about what a crime-ridden area it is. Certainly recent events have lent some weight to this argument; the appalling details from the trials of the men who killed two students in New Cross are still fresh in many peoples' minds, and the death of another teenage stab victim yesterday just a few streets away from the station would surely back up the Daily Mail's case. (Before we start, let's get one thing clear though - wearing a jacket with the hood up is NOT a crime, or it wasn't last time I checked, nor does it make you automatically a criminal.)

But if like me you prefer to see the evidence rather than believe everything you read in the papers, you might be interested to check out the Metropolitan Police's Crime Mapping service.

Input your postcode and you can find out how your area rates in comparison with other London boroughs - whether crime rates in your area are average, or higher or lower than the rest of London. Click on the map to get information for each ward about the actual number of incidents, the figures from the previous months, and trends for the month or the year.

I've discovered that in March 2009, the overall crime rate in Evelyn ward (north of the railway line and all the way up to the river, the 'dreaded' Pepys estate and all) was up slightly on February's figures, but still average by London standards. The area south of the railway line, up to New Cross road was above average.

The overall figures can also be broken down further, revealing that although 'violence against the person' is above average for my ward, and high for a neighbouring New Cross ward, 'most serious violence against the person' is only average in most of Deptford, although above average in parts of Rotherhithe and high in Lewisham town centre.

We did not do so well in 'personal robbery'. In March the ward's figures were high by London standards, although surprisingly many of the surrounding wards scored 'low or no crime'. Business robbery was also high - although to be fair, the figures recorded a single incident in the month, showing the rating system to be a rather blunt tool on this occasion.

Residential burglary is also average or low in many parts of Deptford, while many neighbouring Greenwich wards are above average or high. 'Other burglary' ranges from low or no crime (Evelyn) to high (High Street towards New Cross).

The information on trends shows that although February and March of this year recorded a rise in crime compared to January of this year, they show a reduction on the number of crimes at the same time last year. Even personal robbery figures show a decline over the last few years.

Ultimately of course it's possible to pick out whichever statistics suit your argument and ignore the rest - but having this information available at least enables readers to get statistics about crime rates in the area they live in, and make up their own minds about whether or not they want to come here.

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