Will police’s new neighbourhood crime website raise fear of crime? JOIN THE DEBATE

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A NEW internet service has been launched allowing people to see what crime and anti-social behaviour has been happening on their streets.

But a top South Yorkshire Police officer said the force is “slightly nervous” the move could raise people’s fear of crime.

By logging into www.police.uk and typing in a postcode, people can view total figures for all incidents - as well as view individual categories for burglary, robbery, violence, vehicle crime, other crime and anti-social behaviour.

The site has been so popular since its launch this week it received up to 18 million hits an hour and repeatedly crashed yesterday.

The figure was reported to be more than any government website had ever had to deal with.

There is also contact information for the local neighbourhood policing team and details of what action officers are taking to make the area safer.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “By making this information available, we aim to raise awareness of what we’re doing to tackle crime and disorder and how local people can support their local police.”

He added information about crimes would “help communities better understand what’s happening on their streets”.

But ACC Holt said the move - ordered by the Government - is a “change” of approach for the force.

He said: “There is a slight element of nervousness around. We hope the extra information will make people realistic about levels of crime but it could raise people’s concern.

“There is a dilemma - one of the things that drives public confidence in the police up or down is reports in the media about crime. Public confidence decreases when reports are made.”

ACC Holt said the information initially uploaded on to the website includes crimes for December - among them 7,258 anti-social behaviour incidents recorded that month alone. The site will be updated as new figures are available. The website was launched under the last Government but previously only contained crime figures by council ward rather than specific streets.

Now people will be able to view information on a street-by-street basis, apart from for streets containing less than 12 properties for “privacy reasons”.

People will be unable to view details of specific incidents and crimes will be recorded only under the general categories.

ACC Holt said: “There are a lot of myths about crime and the public perception is that crime rates are higher than they actually are.

“Using this website, people will be able to see the true picture. It will help the public hold the police to account.”

But he added people using the site needed to take an “educated view” when looking at the statistics - for example viewing the address of police stations will show a high number of drug offences.

“That is because we find them on prisoners when they are brought in after an arrest, so the crime’s location is recorded as the police station,” ACC Holt said.

Details of Safer Neighbourhood Teams, policing priorities and crime prevention advice will also be published.