Website reveals crime hotspots

RESIDENTS can now log on to find out exactly how many crimes were recorded on their street thanks to a new internet crime map.

The website launched on Tuesday gives a road-by-road breakdown of all the crimes reported on a monthly basis split into six categories - anti-social behaviour, violent crime, robbery, burglary, vehicle crime and other, a catch-all category covering anything from sexual assault to shoplfiting.

The Government says the site - which crashed almost as soon as it was launched due to huge demand - will give people more power to hold local police to account.

Locally there were four areas where crimes were concentrated in December, namely the town centre, Central St Leonards, Hollington and the Mount Pleasant Road/Blacklands area.

Havelock Road topped the list with 40 crimes in total, but an anomaly with the system put the tiny cul-de-sac Oasthouse Close second, as that is where crimes are recorded for the nearby Conquest Hospital.

The site also includes details of local officers and upcoming crime prevention initiatives, and Chief Constable Martin Richards of Sussex Police welcomed it as a positive move.

He 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.

This new technology will allow us to provide more relevant information to the community.”

His views were echoed by Graham Hill, of East Sussex Victim Support, who said: “In our experience victims of crime want to be kept informed about their own crime and other similar crimes in their area, so it will be useful to those who have suffered crimes of any sort to have access to such information on this website.”

But critics have questioned whether it is a suitable use of Government cash when Sussex Police alone is being forced to find £52 million of savings over the next four years. Cllr Michael Wincott (Lab), who represents Ore, was quick to dismiss the site as a gimmick which would increase the fear of crime, particularly among the old and vulnerable.

He said: “I think the data is useless on its own. I can look and see there were this many crimes in Ore - so what?

“The police cannot give me any information about specific crimes anyway. I cannot see any benefits unless the data leads to extra resources which we know is not going to happen under this Government. It will make people afraid and some will barricade themselves in their homes. The police already have access to this data - I don’t see the point of us having access to it as well.”