With ever-changing local community demographics, short-term politics, ideology, public service budget cuts, affordable and accessible means of travel, coupled with the universal struggle to make ends meet, it seems nothing has been more controversial or polarising than allegedly evidence-based data such as local crime maps1. The data and format in which these maps are formulated present both a sword and shield resource for various stakeholders, dependent upon their interests and objectives. It is therefore worth considering the specific, tangible and intangible benefits afforded to stakeholders with the collection of crime data2 and the publication of maps. This report evaluates the stakeholders in order or perceived importance and examines the various benefits and disadvantages each stakeholder is likely to experience as a result of such maps.

Stakeholders have long been prioritised based on their interest and influence. Emphasis has been apportioned to those that have both the highest interest and the greatest influence relative to an entity, person or community. Whilst some relationships and stakeholder connectivity may be realised and acknowledged in advance, some stakeholder relationships are only discovered or realised after negative or publicly discussed events. Crime maps have demonstrated this reality in recent times.

Media

Formal and informal media channels such as syndicated news services, social media and editorial programs represent both a stakeholder and means of consumption or education for most communities. It is often unclear or undisclosed as to which part of this relationship they represent with specific content and viewpoints. This is evident when it comes to the issue and framing of crime maps, where media channels introduce the issue, educate as they see fit, and contribute to the topical nature or virality of the subject.  Perception strongly influences people’s behaviour and attitude to apparent hazards3, which is formulated from their understanding of the viewpoint upon which it was presented. Media elements can profit, increase consumption of their product and benefit significantly from either a trustworthy and factual viewpoint or one that simply makes people highly emotional. In a fast world of information consumption, a headline and single introductory sentence may be all the majority of readers view, making it all the more important to harness a certain stickiness factor4, in order to make the topic contagious, in much the same way any other trend promulgates. Crime and the subject of crime maps are just as contagious5 as other social trends. Once a headline is practical and personal, it becomes memorable6 and is very difficult to be forgotten or reforged. The media, including social media, is largely disadvantaged by factual, balanced content, unless in reply to an existing, circulating story, such as crime maps.

News reports, by their nature, tend to overplay the importance in any particular piece of information7, including crime data and subsequent maps. Conversely, mass collaboration can empower a growing cohort of connected individuals to reach unprecedented heights in learning and discovery8. Origin of content, context and explanations9 are therefore required from supporting stakeholders such as the general public, politicians, police and private companies.

General Public

Whilst it may seem obvious, the general public benefits from publicly available, qualitative and quantitive analysis from professional and government resources. It aides in making informed decisions prevent mistrust and permit access to public services and capability effectiveness. These benefits should outweigh the disadvantages of apparent crime, the concentration of events or known problem areas in which people, communities and customers avoid.

Collective intelligence10 is very new. In order for the general public to effectively consider crime maps, they need diversity, decentralisation, independence and aggregation11. The following stakeholders represent those elements.

Politicians

Political parties and representative individuals are a typical lag indicator or after the fact focused. Lead indicator12 development and support offer significant benefits for politicians and communities alike. Whilst historical data, trends and concentration of crime offer important information, the time taken to compile, and variances between where crime occurs and where perpetrators originate is not immediately apparent. A mutually beneficial outcome is for politicians not to support short term agendas, especially with the recent release or update of new crime data and maps, but to educate the public and support public services in getting to the causality of the instances of crime, rather than chase popular opinion.

Police

Police and criminology specialists can explain the context, process of collection and interpret what crime maps mean to the average person, communities and commercial entities. This alone can shine a light on the subject, identify means of collaboration or outright discourage offenders due to the public addressing and commentary on their actions that might otherwise have gone undisclosed, presenting a further opportunity for those with criminal intent. In particular, police representatives can refine the raw data contained in crime maps by articulating likely criminal intent, wants, needs, and possible indicators13, directly benefiting areas affected by crime, reducing14 possible victims/events and assuring15 community groups.

Disadvantages for police with respect to crime maps is the perception or interpretation that police are inactive or ineffective in preventing or reducing crime in specific locales or that they are preferential in locations they conduct policing activities.

Private Companies

Companies have a legal16 and ethical obligation to protect their employees and assets from harm. Formal risk17 and threat assessments or evaluation of hazards, move beyond general fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD18). Crime data and visual maps go a long way to support the process and benefit businesses, managers and planners. Where available, risk-based decision makers are all but obligated19 to review and consider crime maps, prior to the evaluation or implementation of control measures, if required. Crime maps can assist managers with relevant20 events, categorisation, frequency, contributing factors and even foreseeable opportunity, presenting further opportunities for reduction of crime where present, in support of government agencies.

Disadvantages for companies and staff is that physical operations and work locations cannot be uplifted or relocated easily in the event they are proximal to crime concentration, trends or otherwise significantly negative information found on crime maps. Insurance premiums may be higher, less talent is attracted to the business and customers and service levels may be adversely affected by publicly accessible and published crime maps.

Repeat Offenders Or Criminal Intent

Criminals and those with criminal intent are significantly disadvantaged by public knowledge of their crimes, locations, methods, victims and frequency of offences. The primary disadvantage for this group is that criminal elements can be drawn to areas of high crime, exploit publicly available crime information or relocate their singular or repeated criminal activities once detected and made public.

Recent Examples

One international media outlet published an alarmist and incomplete news release regarding a comparative analysis of violent crime in London21 versus that in New York. In direct response, in a more factual and informative manner, an opposing news update22 was released to counter this negative release and explain in detail exactly what was taking place and clarify the variations in data and reporting. These events had a significant impact on public opinion and the facts, in particular, the realisation that crime rates were being openly discussed by such influential entities, as has occurred in the past23. FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real24) necessitated many of the aforementioned stakeholders to participate in the discussion, whether it was truly required or not. Crime data and respective mapping had precipitated this groundswell25.

A similar, disproportional discussion played out in Australia. Public opinion, outspoken politicians and even factions within the police pushed the notion that African gangs in conjunction with a run of related, public events were part of a growing, sustained trend26. Conversely, publicly available crime27 information collected from police records and presented in map and data formats, quickly disproved this suggestion, however, it was far less popular and reported once released.

Recommendations

Relationships don’t spontaneously occur without effort or action. The need for relationships after the fact is too late to serve the need and those affected, in addition to combating specific crime/s. Leadership is needed. Police and government agencies need to invest more in presenting facts and engaging the public and political groups with crime data and maps, in particular discussing what all the data and information means. This includes reducing the lag from entry to the actionable intelligence of value for individuals, communities, public planners and commercial entities.

Written by Tony Ridley

  1. 1 New York Crime – Map, (Neighbourhood Scout, USA) https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ny/crime accessed 7 May 18
  2. 2 Crime Reports, (https://www.crimereports.com/, USA) https://www.crimereports.com/ accessed 7 May 18
  3. 3 Vincent Covello, Joshua Menkes & Jeryl Mumpower, Risk Evaluation and Management, (Premium Press, New York and London), 1986, Page 2
  4. 4 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, (Abacus, London), 2000, page 25
  5. 5 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, (Abacus, London), 2000, page 141
  6. 6 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, (Abacus, London), 2000, page 98

7 James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, (Anchor Book, USA), 2005, Page254

  1. 8 Don Tapscott &Anthony D. Willians, Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, (Atlantic Book, London), 2006, Page 15
  2. 9 Erik Qualman, Socialnomics – How Social Media Transforms The Way We Live And Do Business, (John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey), 2009, Page 15
  3. 10 Erik Qualman, Socialnomics – How Social Media Transforms The Way We Live And Do Business, (John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey), 2009, page 74
  4. 11 James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, (Anchor Book, USA), 2005, Page 10

12 Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “Developing process safety indicators”, (HSE Books, London, 2006).p.1

13 Carl A. Roper, “Risk Mangaement For Security Professionals”,(Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier, 1999), p.45.

  1. 14 Ashley Southall, Crime in New York City plunges to a level not seen since the 1950’s, (New York Times, USA, 27 Dec 17), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/nyregion/new-york-city-crime-2017.html accessed 7 May 18
  2. 15 Seven Major Felony Offences 2000 to 2017- New York City, (New York City Police Department, USA) http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/historical-crime-data/seven-major-felony-offenses-2000-2017.pdf Accessed 7 May 18

16 Michael Tooma, “Safety, Security, Health and Environment Law”, (Federation Press, Australia, 2008), p.98

17 Karim H. Vellani, “Strategic Security Management: A risk assessment guide for decision-makers”, (Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier, 2007), p.164.

18 Andrew Jaquith, “Security Metrics: Replacing Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”, (Addison Wesley, 2007).p.11.

19 Carl A. Roper, “Risk Management For Security Professionals”,(Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier, 1999), p.20

20 Karim H. Vellani, “Strategic Security Management: A risk assessment guide for decision-makers”, (Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier, 2007), p.164.

  1. 21 Andrew Gilligan, London murder rate beats New York as stabbings surge, (The Times, UK, 1 Apr 2018), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/london-murder-rate-beats-new-york-as-stabbings-surge-f59w0xqs0 acceded 7 May 18
  2. 22 Dominic Casciani, Reality Check: Has London’s murder rate overtaken New York’s?, (BBC News, UK, 4 Apr 18) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43628494 accessed 7 May 18

23 James Surokiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, (Anchor Book, USA), 2005, Page 252

  1. 24 Erik Qualman, Socialnomics – How Social Media Transforms The Way We Live And Do Business, (John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey), 2009, Page 201
  2. 25 Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff, Groundswell -winning in a world transformed by social technologies, (Harvard Business Press, (Forrester Research, USA), 2008, Page 9
  3. 26 Does Victoria have an African gang crime problem?, ABC News, Australia, 9 Jan 18) http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/african-gangs-factcheck/9313994 accessed 7 May 18

27 New Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) research finds chronic offenders responsible for large portion of crime in Victoria, (Crime Statistics Agency, Victoria, Australia, 26 Apr 18) https://www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/media-centre/news/new-csa-research-finds-chronic-offenders-responsible-for-large-proportion-of accessed 7 May 18

Summary
Crime Maps: Pros and Cons for Key Stakeholders [Analysis]
Article Name
Crime Maps: Pros and Cons for Key Stakeholders [Analysis]
Description
With ever-changing local community demographics, short-term politics, ideology, public service budget cuts, affordable and accessible means of travel, coupled with the universal struggle to make ends meet, it seems nothing has been more controversial or polarising than allegedly evidence-based data such as local crime maps⁠.
Author

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