At yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time I asked Boris Johnson to radically improve the Met’s intelligence system by introducing predictive crime mapping in London.Predictive crime mapping takes historic crime data and models the likely locations of future criminal acts, allowing the police to target their officers and other resources to those areas. Predictive modelling is already used in the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service to help target deployments. It’s been used on a smaller scale than London by the police in Memphis, Tennessee who saw a 30% reduction in crime over the last seven years.
Researchers from University College London’s Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science have shown it’s possible to develop even more effective crime hotspot maps by modelling the spread of crime in a way similar to modelling the spread of disease. Their work confirms a ‘prospective hotspot map’ is more effective than traditional crime mapping methods.
The Metropolitan Police need to get more crime fighting output with less financial input so money needs to be targeted at systems that can achieve more for less.
Because it is a non-intrusive form of intelligence led policing it’s welcomed by civil liberties groups with Big Brother Watch saying that compared to communications intercepts “This kind of approach, using crime data and pursuing the ‘broken windows’ strategy, is far more effective at reducing crime and improving public safety”.
There is a lot of evidence from the USA that, where predictive crime mapping has been used, crime can be significantly cut. These kinds of results cannot be ignored; so I am calling on the Mayor to test out this system in London.