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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Policing on the web
Policing on the web
Article Type: Policing on the web From: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Volume 35, Issue 4.
Since January 2011, citizens in the UK have had access to an innovative tool which allows them to track crimes in their neighborhoods via the government's crime mapping web site (accessible online at www.police.uk). The Police.UK web site represents a revolutionary method of informing citizens about crime in their neighborhoods as well as increasing transparency in the criminal justice system (Ministry of Justice, 2012a).
Visitors to the Police.UK web site who enter an address, postcode or “place name” can access a wealth of information related to crime and policing in their area. For example, citizens can access basic information such as the name and contact information of the force responsible for policing their neighborhoods, photographs and profiles of members of the neighborhood policing team assigned to their areas, as well as dates and times of upcoming events in the neighborhoods. In addition to this basic information, citizens can also access data on crime trends across individual forces, as well as, wonderfully detailed color-coded maps displaying the location of crimes occurring in their neighborhoods. From these maps, it is quite easy to identify the trouble spots in a given neighborhood.
Recently, the web site was updated to even allow citizens to track the outcomes of various crimes occurring in their neighborhood. This update was the result of citizenry's “huge appetite” for crime-related information (Ministry of Justice, 2012b). In a Ministry of Justice press release, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Nick Herbert, says “[t]he Public don’t just want to know what crime is being committed in their local area; they want to know what is being done about it. Did the person who smashed a shop window get arrested? Has the person stealing from the local newsagents been arrested and sent to court?” (Ministry of Justice, 2012b). Judging by the number of visitors to the web site, it seems he might be right. During its first 18 months on the web, the Police.UK web site was visited more than 47 million times.
Whether or not one lives in the UK, the Police.UK web site is worth the visit. It provides an example of how a task such as keeping the community informed about crime-related issues can be done successfully and could very easily serve as a model for police departments in other nations around the globe.
JW Carter II, PhDCollege of Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH
Ministry of Justice (2012a), “Justice outcomes in your area”, available at: www.police.uk (accessed March 31, 2012)
Ministry of Justice (2012b), “Public given power to track crime outcomes on police”, available at: www.justice.gov.uk/news/press-releases/moj/public-given-power-to-track-crime-outcomes-on-police.uk (accessed March 31, 2012)