Police site pinpoints rural crime

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THE Home Office’s new crime-mapping website can reveal individual rural properties where a crime has occurred, the Bury Free Press has discovered.

The www.police.uk website, launched on Monday, is intended to show one month’s reported crime down to street level when a postcode or place name is entered. A Home Office spokesman said: “Where there are less than 12 postal addresses in a road it won’t be identified.”

But we found an anti-social behaviour incident near West Row where there is only one nearby property. There are other postal addresses in the road but the next nearest is about half a mile away.

The Home Office was surprised we were able to tell them the name of the property and its owner. Its spokesman said: “We try to avoid this. We want to be accurate but not to identify victims.”

Wil Gibson, chief executive of Suffolk Action with Communities in Rural England, said: “In rural locations where there are only three or four houses in a neighbourhood, you’ll know where they are.

“Our worry is this might lead to more community tensions.”

In town, the mapping seems to work as intended, though it is possible to pinpoint shops where high levels of shoplifting are reported. The Home Office confirmed that what the maps call ‘other crimes’ includes shoplifting, accounting for peaks in places like Crowe Street, Stowmarket, near Asda.

In most places, the hotspots for anti-social behaviour and violent crime are near town centre nightspots.

Bury St Edmunds’ map records 313 crimes in December, of which 152 were anti-social and 49 were violent. The town’s hot-spot for anti-social and violent behaviour was Station Hill.

Stowmarket’s total of 143 crimes included 81 anti-social and 13 violent, though it has no hotspot streets for either.

Thetford’s 243 crimes include 143 anti-social and 25 violent. The Abbey Estate’s 19 anti-social incidents was on a par with the town centre.

Mildenhall is quieter with a total of 78 crimes, including 39 anti-social and 12 violent.