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June 4, 2009 11:15 AM

Newcastle East Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has called upon Northumbria Police to give the public greater access to crime mapping data.

Although ward level crime statistic maps are currently available online, Cllr Stone believes the force should investigate the feasibility of introducing publicly-accessible websites which plot crime locations, as used in American cities.

He believes this would give the public useful information about the prevalence of crime in local communities.

In addition to identifying "hotspots" which require greater police presence, the technology could also help to provide information which shows that crime in most parts of the area is falling, helping to reduce fear of crime.

Greg Stone said: "Police forces in other countries, particularly in the USA, now provide real-time updating of crime maps of their cities, showing citizens the locations of reported crimes and where appropriate identifying the action taken, such as arrests or convictions.

"The GIS (geographic information system) data is available and I know the police already make use of it to target crime trends and anti-social behaviour and graffiti hotspots.

"Making this data publicly accessible in an online map format would help to give the public greater understanding of crime risks in their area, but would also help to reassure the public that in most parts of the city crime is low and is falling.

"Given that the technology is already being used, the costs would be modest, but the value to the public in improving neighbourhood policing and reducing fear of crime would be considerable."