Monday, 7 February 2011

Crime Mapping - A look at the beginning of the national system (Dec 2008)

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced on the 28th July 2008 that every neighbourhood in England and Wales would have access to the latest local crime information through new interactive crime maps.

The requirement set by the Home Secretary was that by the end of 2008, as efficiently and effectively as possible, forces had to produce a crime mapping system that would allow the public to:
  • see where and when crime has happened, down to street level for some offences
  • make comparisons with other areas
  • learn how crime is being tackled by neighbourhood policing teams.

Warwickshire Police, like many other forces, were keen to develop a system that worked for them but which could also work for other forces across England and Wales. This had the potential to deliver a better system at lesser cost than individual bespoke systems designed and purchased by some forces. 

Staff in Cambridgshire, West Mercia Police, Derbyshire and Leicestershire Police decided to work together to reduce the costs on each force and to the community in implementing a crime mapping solution. Initially this was picked up by members of the National Police Web Managers Group.

After initial research and discussion with many other forces that had not identified a way forward at that time, a presentation to 32 forces was arranged from four suppliers.

James Pickett (Cambridgeshire Police) and Ann Burr (West Mercia Police) came together with Sasha Taylor, (Warwickshire) and all played a significant role in developing various aspects of this work within their various specialisms and supported other colleagues from different forces in developing this solution. 

James provided the technical link to those within the group, Anne provided the experience in process management, while Sasha was responsible for co-coordinating this activity to bring it to its successful conclusion. 

Sasha also managed the implementation of the background maps required by this system for the Home Office on behalf of all forces.

The project
Following the presentation to forces a preferred supplier (RKH) was identified by many forces, however each force had to progress its own contractual arrangements with the supplier it chose.

During the last quarter of 2008, the ‘crime mapping group’ expanded to included 30+ forces and the people involved ranged from Web Managers (NPWMG), Project Managers, Performance Managers and Senior Officers and via a virtual network managed to overcome a number of hurdles in the implementation of the RKH crime mapping solution.

James Pickett and Sasha Taylor represented the interests of the ‘crime mapping group’ of forces using RKH at the Home Office Local Crime Information Stakeholder Assurance Group led by the DCC Neil Rhodes. Through this group they also managed to promote a number of standards that the ‘crime mapping group’ sought to achieve as the national standard.

Sasha Taylor also ensured that all forces were kept updated by the National Police Web Managers Group, which reports into APPRO and ACPO MediaAdvisory Group.

Resources and budget
The shared objective of all the forces as part of the ‘crime mapping group’ was to deliver crime mapping solutions for all forces at minimum cost, on a single platform with common criteria.

The initial RKH solution cost £2,750 for a licence and a £240 annual cost per force that wished to take this solution. The system proved simple to navigate with a balance between providing the information to the public and keeping the victims of crimes anonymous. As the NPWMG were leading on the implementation of the product they also created a good support network so that people with specific specialisms could help their colleagues in other forces.

This project was delivered within three months, from concept to go live to the public, and was taken up by 31 forces as their solution to Crime Mapping requirement.

Before the first Home Office Local Crime Information Stakeholder Assurance Group a questionnaire had been circulated to all forces asking them what position they were in to deliver Crime Mapping solution by the end of 2008 - the general feedback was that many would be struggling.

Due to collaboration enabled by the ‘crime mapping group’ this changed, with DCC Neil Rhodes being able to reassure that Government that nearly all (if not all) forces would achieve the deadline of December 2008.

The solution created was simple in its design and delivery, but more importantly it has shown that forces can work in partnership to tight deadlines, when allowed to manage the project themselves.

Whereas other crime mapping solutions have cost over £100,000, the solution proposed by the ‘crime mapping group' cost each force £2,350 with an ongoing annual cost of £240. The criteria for the suppliers to be invited to present was that their solution would be no more than £5,000 per force.

The ‘crime mapping group' solution became the basis for the first official national Crime Mapping solution that the NPIA adopted for the Home Office/ACPO.