Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to our FAQ section which we hope will answer most if not all of your questions. Please browse here and our Problems with the data section before getting in touch with any questions.
Where does the data come from and how often is this website updated with it?
Right now, the publicly available monthly crime data is published by www.police.uk once a month here http://www.police.uk/data. So we update our website with that data once a month, after it has been cleaned for errors, typos etc. - of which there are still too many. On achieving a clean dataset, we aim to add the data to our database for www.ukcrimestats.com within 1 week of it being published for you to see and usually less than that.
What exactly does "Crime Rate" mean and how do you calculate it?
For the purposes of this site and the official UK Crime Rate (CR) statistic, CR is best understood in totality as "Crimes per 1,000 resident people as per the latest official Census over a selected time period". For the first 3 months of the data, Dec 10, Jan 11 and Feb 11, the population data which is the basis for the CR is allocated by Neighbourhood and is from the 2001 Census. We do not know when the latest census data for population from 2011 will be fed into the official neighbourhood population figures, but we will tell you when it happens.
For example, in March 2011, the constituency of the Cities of London and Westminster had a total of 6,744 crimes and had a population of 133,637. To calculate the crime rate, divide the population by 1000 to get 133.657 and then divide the number of crimes, 6,744 by 133.657. This ends in a crime rate of 50.46 registered crimes per 1,000 residents.
The Economic Policy Centre is an economics think tank - why are you doing this?
At it's heart, crime is an economic and social problem, costing the economy a huge amount of money and causing a great deal of misery. But solving crime is a 100% information driven solution. We hope that this website is able to play some small role in that by giving the country accurate and impartial information about crime.
What happens when you have a violent burglary - is that 1 or 2 separate crimes on your database?
Good question. There are 5 different types of crime listed and one ASB category and some of them can overlap. We now have it on good authority that there is an order of hierarchy according to the length of sentence per crime committed. So in this example, if the burglary involved homicide, then this would be registered as a violent crime, not a burglary. But if there was a relatively small and ineffectual violent blow landed by the pepetrator on the victim but a great deal of valuable items were burgled, then it is registered as a burglary. So a combination of different offences are recorded as one crime according to the hierarchy of potential sentencing length.
How can On or Near Sussex Police HQ top the Street crime for February 2011? It looks wrong
We think it looks strange too. But this is what the official Sussex police data feed says from www.police.uk. Download and see for yourself http://crimemapper2.s3.amazonaws.com/frontend/crime-data/2011-02/2011-02-sussex-street.zip and in excel go to rows 9787-9920 where it shows 134 Asbo crimes on on near Sussex Police HQ. We have to trust the official police data as it would be impossible for us to check the validity of every one of the 500,000 crimes each month in England and Wales. However, we are always looking to highlight anomalies. And this website only reflect official police crime data.
UPDATE: Sussex have now updated their data and this is no longer a problem.
Why is Great Moor Street in Bolton the highest violent crime on or near street in England and Wales? That can't be right
The official data feed from www.police.uk belonging to Greater Manchester Police says it is. If you'd like to check, please download the official file http://crimemapper2.s3.amazonaws.com/frontend/crime-data/2011-02/2011-02-greater-manchester-street.zip . The problem appears to be the accompanying sentence to nearly every crime on or near Great Moor Street which says "CrimeMapper has moved this record to a location that is the system's nearest available street to the centre of the policing foot-beat where the record was originally plotted".
We don't know why they've done that, perhaps the location records were lost?
It has skewed the results but we can't guess which street each of these crimes were on and this website only reflects the official police data. And to remove the crimes on the street from the database would be a distortion as well. If it changes, we will change it too. But this is in the hands of the police and their data record-keeping.
What is a Crime ID number, how is it assigned and can I search on it?
We have assigned each individual crime since the start of the database in December 2010 an individual number. So as crimes in England and Wales are growing by 500,000 a month, after the first 3 months, we have 1.5 million crime id numbers on our database. You can also search for them by number in the search box, 1-1,500,000 plus. Each crime has it's own page, limited description, position on the map and url address so you can refer incoming links to it.
N.B. Please note, these Crime ID numbers are not the same as the official police crime id numbers.
Who interprets this data?
We don't interpret the data per se, we order it into an easily digestible format and the public, academics, policymakers, press etc. are free to draw their own conclusions. Without going into detail, it really was a challenge trying to work out what we could and couldn't ask of the data. If you have some ideas for new questions that you'd like it to answer, please feel free to share them with us on email@example.com. We can't pay you, but we are more than happy to credit you with your idea if you want that and we are able to bring it to fruition.
How do you select the most crime-prone streets in England and Wales?
We do not hold a database of all the streets in England and Wales and in the first 3 months of data, most streets have had no crime at all. However, at least 321,000 streets had 1 or more crimes. So we have to create a manageable cut-off. Each month we take the 1,000 streets (on or near) which have had the highest total number of crimes. These are the streets we then extract to our database for measuring type of crime by street over a selected time period.
My street / neighbourhood only had crime in the time period of this database but before that was largely crime free. Doesn't that mean that your database is time-biased?
If that's true, then yes it does. 3 months (Dec 10, Jan 11 and Feb 11) does not make a trend, but it's all we've got and it give the public some idea of risk which wasn't available to them before. However if your Street / Neighbourhood resumes its usual low crime ways, then it will fall back down the rankings.
The more monthly data we have, the more accurate a picture the website can draw.
If I see inaccurate or questionable data, can I report this to you?
Yes of course. Just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. But please check first with our page http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Data entitled "Problems with the data" to see if we have not already covered it. And if it is something new, we will give you publshed credit, if you want that. We have found a number of issues that are not yet resolved. We will be sending this list in to the government once a month to help them improve the quality of their information.
What about Scotland and Northern Ireland?
We don't have that data, it has not been released. But when it is, we will endeavour to upload it to our website as soon as is possible.
I'm a Policeman and don't you realise that you can be a good Police Officer/Police Force in a high crime area or an ineffective one in a low crime one?
Yes of course. Correlation is not causation. But people still want to know what crime is like in their area or within a Police Force relative to another because their overriding concern is relative risk.
Where do you decide to put street crimes on a street and are there any streets you don't show?
As per www.police.uk where we get our data from, all crimes and ASB events are allocated a "snap point" by the Police which is a dot on a street that is on or near the location of the said crime or ASB event. All streets with fewer than 12 addresses are not shown. This is to protect the privacy, anonymity and ongoing legal proceedings of the victims and alleged perpetrators. So some of the crimes you see on or near a given street may have actually h.appened on a street nearby which had fewer than 12 registered addresses
Are there any crimes or ASB events that are not given a close approximate location?
Yes. In some cases, where the location of the event is not known, crimes can be mapped to police stations, police headquarters or police call centres.
I live in the same road as a police stations/police headquarters/police call centres - will that inflate registered crime to my street?
Yes - if that Police Station is having a lot of crimes mapped to the Police Station because their location is unknown or otherwise. We think that's a problem. We are seeking clarification on the precise coordinates of all the Police stations/hqs and call centres so that we can account for that. We also want to know how many of the crimes (and where and when and what kind)are registered in this way.
How do you keep track of your data queries?
We've set up a forum www.ukcrimestats.com/forum/ which you are free to view and participate in. From the beginning of October, we will be posting up every query and problem so you all know about it, don't think we're hiding anything from you and create some external pressure on the relevant parties to clean up and complete the crime data.
How is it decided where the crimes & ASB incidents are located?
I have lifted this directly from www.police.uk as we use exactly the same data.
A key challenge for the www.police.uk website and API is striking a balance between being open and transparent about crime, and our obligations to protect the identity and privacy of individual victims.
For this reason, the icons you see on the Crime Maps page always represent the approximate location of a crime – not the exact place that it happened. Anonymising crime location is one of the steps we have taken to help protect the privacy of victims, based on consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
How are crime locations anonymised?
We maintain a master list of over 750,000 'anonymous' map points. Each map point is specifically chosen so that it:
Appears over the centre point of a street, above a public place such as a Park or Airport, or above a commercial premise like a Shopping Centre or Nightclub.
Has a catchment area which contains eight or more postal addresses (or no postal addresses at all).
When crime data is provided by police forces, the exact location of each crime is compared against the master list to find the nearest map point. The co-ordinates of the actual crime are then replaced with the co-ordinates of the map point.
No other filtering or rules are applied, and the original location information is deleted. This process ensures that we can provide crime information that is accurate, transparent and locally relevant, whilst maintaining the anonymity of victims.
How was the master list of map points created?
In summary, the process used to creating the master list was as follows:
The centre point of every road in England and Wales was taken from the Ordnance Survey Locator dataset.
This was augmented with locally relevant ‘points of interest’ from the Landmark Points of Interest dataset.
Subsequently, each map point was analysed to see how many postal addresses were contained in its ‘catchment area’ (according to the Ordnance Survey Address-Point dataset). Any with between 1 and 7 postal addresses were discarded to protect privacy.
The remaining points were provided to police forces for a human assessment. A small number of additions and deletions were made based on their feedback to make the map points more locally relevant.