By Lucy Phillips
1 February 2011
The government’s launch of online crime maps for England and
Wales has been accompanied by further criticism of plans to scrap police
The interactive maps, launched today by Home Secretary Theresa
May and policing minister Nick Herbert, enable people to search for information
on crime in their area by typing in a postcode or name of a street.
But the Association of Police Authorities warned that while
the new tool was welcome, the government’s
move to replace police authorities with elected commissioners would make
accountability more remote from local neighbourhoods.
‘Despite the marvels of mapping, scrapping the local link in
policing oversight to impose solo crime commissioners could leave the public
short-changed with more information but less influence,’ said APA deputy chair
Mark Burns Williamson.
According to the APA, the government’s policing reforms will
mean one crime commissioner could be responsible for the policing of millions
of residents over vast areas. Police authorities, made up of 17 members,
currently only oversee a local district or borough.
May has been forced to defend her plans to introduce the
elected commissioners, outlined in the PoliceReform and Social Responsibility Bill, on a number of previous occasions.
But she heralded the launch of the website today as a new
way of connecting police and communities.
Herbert added: ‘Together with the introduction of directly
elected police and crime commissioners, we are giving people the information
and power to hold their local forces to account and ensure that crime in their
neighbourhood is driven down.’
The Association of Chief Police Officers also endorsed the
website. Deputy chief constable Neil Rhodes, the ACPO lead on crime
information, said the links to neighbourhood policing teams would help build
community involvement in policing.