Web crime map loses its way

Off the map: Launched on Tuesday, the police crime map website crashed repeatedly and quickly became unusable.
Off the map: Launched on Tuesday, the police crime map website crashed repeatedly and quickly became unusable.
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A NEW crime-mapping website has been slammed after it left Wearsiders staring at a blank screen on its first day.

The aim of the new site – www.police.uk – is to give people access to crime data in their area and crimes that have taken place on their doorstep.

But millions were left out of the loop yesterday after the site crashed when it became inundated with people clamouring to check out their area.

The Home Office, which runs the site, said it was working to fix the “technical glitch” as up to five million users tried to log on every hour – the equivalent of 75,000 a minute.

The new site allows people to look at which crimes have been committed and the streets involved. Newgate Street in Newcastle was found to be the worst street in the country for antisocial behaviour.

The much-heralded site was closed by lunchtime yesterday, leaving many scratching their heads.

Doug Ridley, Sunderland Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said: “This is typical and is another example of the Government going ahead and doing things without thinking about them properly.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have been trying to access this website and just can’t get on there.”

Many people could only see blank pages and were faced with a message saying “no police area is associated with this address” when entering a postcode, street or area or left staring at a “loading” screen.

Once the website, which cost £300,000 to develop, is back on track, the crimes will be broken down into burglary, robbery, vehicle crime, violence, antisocial behaviour and other crime and the stats will be given month by month.

Crimes including sex offences, theft and shoplifting are included in the other crime category to prevent victims from being identified.

Details of officers responsible for areas, police appeals and details of police meetings can also be found.

But while the Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers have welcomed the website, some fear it may lead to an unwarranted fear of crime.

Mr Ridley said: “I think they will cause a lot of concern amongst people viewing them if they see there is a lot of crime in their area.

“It’s far better if people want information about an area to contact their Neighbourhood Watch representative or someone already living there as I feel the only way to get first-class information about somewhere is to speak to someone living there.”