Posted: March 25th, 2013 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
An insightful piece by London Mayor Boris Johnson today and he summed up very well the issue of how useful Police buildings and stations are in fighting crime;
Police buildings do not make arrests. They do not lumber down the street in pursuit of criminals. They do not observe crime, and according to most criminologists there is no real evidence that they even deter crime – not just by sitting there as an inanimate structure of bricks and mortar.
Crime is not fought by buildings, but by the men and women of our police force; and in the teeth of a long economic downturn, and with all budgets facing a huge squeeze, it is those flesh and blood human beings who are doing an outstanding job.
We have another problem on UKCrimeStats with Police Stations – we don’t know where they all are and only government can tell us this. This matters because some crimes with no location – or more often, rather not correctly geolocated by Police with their respective Gazetteer – are sometimes relocated at the nearest Police Station. This creates a compound distortion over time for people looking at crime on or near their street and we would like to adjust for these.
Posted: March 8th, 2013 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
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Posted: March 2nd, 2013 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
On Valentine’s Day 14th February 2013 – of all days – I was invited to give a talk to present our views and experiences of working with the crime data at a day-long seminar hosted by the Open Data Institute and funded by SOCIAM of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The discussion was called, “Open Data Comes to Market: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Crime Apps” to answer the central question about why so few developers have used the crime data and seem to be in decline?
It’s pretty obvious to me – police.uk is a monopoly that enjoys first use and access to the data and they are consistently raising the commercial barriers to entry without thought of the consequences to the downstream market. So next time you hear a coalition politician eulogising the “popularity” of police.uk – ask them if they can define the difference between popularity and a monopolistic lack of competitive choice?
It reminds me of an Icelandic colleague I knew years ago in my Luxembourg banking days who told me that in the 70s and 80s, Iceland had only one TV channel that broadcasted a few hours a day and not even every day. So would you call that one TV channel “popular” or just all that you could look at?
No wonder Iceland had such a high suicide rate !
Indeed, why stop there – would the Home Office call the North Korean Communist Party popular too because of it’s high membership in the North Korean populace, more than the Labour, LibDem and Conservative parties combined in a country with a fraction of the population?
Joking aside, the serious point is this; whenever a government-funded website using data has as lot of hits, at not insubstantial cost to the taxpayer and long-term downstream market damage, it has failed to get involved 3rd party developers to do their work for them for free. So at what point should government intervene to develop or release data or do both?
As I argued in this powerpoint, the Home Office appears to be deeply confused and conflicted on this core point and they should only do the second which is to release data.
I’ve complained about this before, most notably here and numerous times to the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel (weirdly last minutes from data.gov.uk only published from 24th January 2012!) and the Open Data Institute to name but a few.
The lesson is clear – the government is not committed to open data until clear lines are set out that determine what government can and can not do with data in the marketplace in strict accordance with competition law. And Britain’s civil service is severely unaware of competition and equal data access rules which they don’t seem think apply to them.
Anyway, here are my slides from the talk From Monopoly to a Flourishing, Open Crime Data Environment. You are of course free to make up your own minds. Comments most welcome. My agenda is a positive one – for open data, including that of crime data to flourish, government has to step back from the marketplace and let a thousand flowers bloom.
Posted: January 10th, 2013 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
With the Christmas break, this took a bit longer than usual however it is now live. As always, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you see anything that looks wrong, suggestions etc.
We are also in the throes of upgrading to a new forum. The old forum has become a magnet for prodigious quantities of spam – 100 a day – so we look forward to a major advance in the new forum’s capabilities as well as much wider non-spam participation.
Posted: December 3rd, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
We actually did this nearly a week ago but some of you will have noticed that we had some data problems with neighbourhoods – no fault of our own as it happens, but we take a very responsible attitude towards the data on ukcrimestats. I’ve written up a full explanation here on our forum http://ukcrimestats.com/forum/topic/policeuk-changes-order-of-crimes-in-neighbourhood-files-for-october-2012-data?replies=1#post-363 - we have now changed our scripts to deal with this and I have asked the Home Office for some explanation for changing the data order without consultation, explanation or forewarning and some reassurance that this won’t happen again.
Posted: November 1st, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
and as you would expect with temperatures dropping and nights getting longer, we have seen a fall across England and Wales on aggregate of around 10% from August to September.
Posted: October 30th, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
This morning I was invited onto Dave Monk’s Programme BBC Radio Essex at 10.10 a.m. to talk briefly about UKCrimeStats and crime in Essex compared to the rest of the country. I explained where we got the data from, what the ASB categories were, talked generally about crime data and put Essex in a national context.
I ran some reports looking at crime rate over the last 12 months for all 43 Police Forces. The combined ASB and crime rate per 1000 residents in Essex came in at 100.3547 which gave Essex a middle ranking range of 25 out of 43. Where there was real difference of course was in the breakdown – it had the 6th highest vehicle crime rate, the 11th highest robbery rate and 35th lowest ASB rate. If you’ll forgive the plug, you can get all of these with a login on our site which only costs £9.99 a month.
I came on straight after a spokesman from the Green Party who didn’t agree with elected PCCs and so announced that they would be not be putting up a candidate, not least because of the £5000 deposit per candidate. I have much sympathy with the latter point – £5000 is certainly too high and a barrier to entry. And yet, it is a flawed argument to say that because turnout will be low the solution is to revert to even less democracy with a committee of unelected officials. Nor is it somehow wrong that politicians get involved. There is nothing much more politically valuable than the democratic oversight of how resources are allocated to fight crime and to boot them out if people think they have not done a good enough job. It’s a bit short-sighted of the Green Party as well to be so dismissive of this when there is ample scope for research into the relationship between the pollution of neurotoxins and crime. Crime or the lack of it is quite intricately linked to the environment.
For all that, where I have found the elections thus far a disappointment is the absence of data in the debate by PCCs – and we will be doing something about this very soon.
Posted: October 3rd, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
We have also introduced a new feature for our members – it is now possible to drill down and ask within a selected Police Force or municipality, which neighbourhood hood or subdivision had the biggest, least, total or increase or decrease in this that or the other type of crime between time point A and B.
I ran it for the Metropolitan Police for the last month and was staggered to see the biggest increase was in the neighbourhood of Pembridge – from at total combined ASB and Crime of 132 in July 2012 to 318 in August 2012 driven mostly by the categories of”Drugs” and “Other Crime”. I’ve double-checked the data though and this is clearly what it says.
Posted: September 8th, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
There seems to be a sizeable difference of opinion between what the general public think the Police can achieve and what the Police think the general public actually want. Elected PCCs should go some way to closing that gap. But this new system will take time to bed down. As political wags will tell you, the first test of a democratic society is not the first election, but the second and it’s just the same with these new elected officials. We will need a good 10 years of PCCs in order to tell how successful they have been.
And expect some failures as well as successes – which it what happens with democracy.
Posted: September 6th, 2012 Author: Dan Lewis 1 Comment »
Following on from a suggestion by one of our members and thanks to our dedicated team of programmers, we have recently invested in making sure that all wards – the smallest electoral division – are matched to the relevant County Council, London Borough, Metropolitan Council etc. This was actually harder to do that it sounds !
We have also included a full listing of all wards under the relevant local authority – e.g. Leeds City Council which has 33 wards and makes comparisons easier. With membership, you can now export as csv files all the wards and their underlying crime data in a time series matched with the names of the authorities.