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Safety in numbers

NLPG Exemplar Award: Highly Commended – ‘Most Creative Use’ 2007: Dartford Borough Council.

GIS has long been used for crime and disorder analysis but pulling the information together has never been easy. In Dartford the Public Safety Unit set up under the auspices of the local Dartford and Gravesham Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP), and staffed by officers from Kent Police and Dartford Borough Council, found they had similar problems.

Dartford Borough Council has a well established LLPG, and the Property Team decided to use this to help make sense of the crime and disorder information originating from partnership groups including; Kent Fire Brigade, Dartford Council Enforcement and Regulatory Services, Kent Police, Council Waste and Recycling, Kent County Highways, Council Housing Services and Local Bus Services. The LLPG is now being used to show the location of problems within the Borough. The analysis and response to this information is being used to guide policy and actions.

The information is combined in a single database using the UPRN as the location reference with each entry date stamped. The type of information captured includes, low-level environmental crime such as fly tipping as reported by the CRM system, which is already linked to the LLPG. The Housing system supplies information relating to vandalism and graffiti, while the Police and Fire provide information on criminal damage and other similar incidents. The Bus Service provide information of incidents on local bus routes, such as attacks against drivers and vandalism. In each case the location is captured using the LLPG. This process will be automated as more systems and organisations, like the Police and the Fire Service, start to use the LLPG directly.

Once in the database, a GIS is used to analyse the data over given time frames, and hot spot maps produced, with each incident colour coded by organisation.

Outcomes

Every two months the findings are presented to the Criminal Damage and Environmental Crime Task Group. Members of the group, which is essentially a sub-group of the CDRP include; Kent Fire, North Kent Police, council housing, British Transport Police, Arriva (the local bus company), South East Railways and Kent County Council Highways. The output, using projectors and interactive white boards, is presented to provide evidence for monitoring the performance of crime and disorder policies, such as the impact of ASBOs, CCTV installations and Alcohol Control Areas. Maps are also produced to highlight problems and determine strategies for specific areas.

Feedback from users has led to new information being added to the gazetteer, for example every CCTV camera now has a UPRN. Subsequently this information has been combined with height and building data to create view shed models, which show the areas the cameras can actually see. The Fire Service has also used the information, placing fire posts around Dartford Heath in order to enable the public to identify the area which might require a response. Each fire post now has a UPRN.

Police have used the information to target specific areas; for example a particular estate where graffiti and anti-social behaviour incidents were becoming a cause for concern. Working together the graffiti was removed and covert cameras installed, resulting in a 40% drop in crime over a 4-week period.

Since the LLPG is used by every council system it is simple to extract information as and when it is required, something the Police are starting to make use of to support specific operations. Hot spot mapping facilitates visual linking, for example illegally dumped rubbish has the potential to become a focus for arson.

Mapping the relevant data sets helps to coordinate a response to specific incidents and provides information to formulate strategies for containment, detection and prevention.

This project is an excellent example of Transformational Government using technology to determine policy and improve service delivery, whilst having a real impact on citizen’s daily lives. It has brought together a number of organisations and provided them with a framework to share data and understand the potential for specific data mining. This intelligence gathering has fostered cross-agency collaboration and aided decision-making.

The Government Office South East (GOSE) has submitted a number of the operations facilitated by this data sharing and analysis to the Home Office as examples of best practice.

Key benefits

  • Multi-agency collaboration, supported by evidence, that informs policy and action.
  • Crime prevention and reduction.
  • The LLPG is recognised as the main source of address information within the council and by outside agencies. They now realise its potential as a common reference system for data matching and for data mining across disparate systems.
  • Exposure of the LLPG to external agencies has helped data validation, improved quality and data management.
  • Significant added value has been generated at no additional cost.
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