Crime mapping is used by analysts in law enforcement agencies to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns. It is a key component of crime analysis and the CompStat policing strategy. Mapping crime, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), allows crime analysts to identify crime hot spots, along with other trends and patterns.
Using GIS, crime analysts can overlay other datasets such as census demographics, locations of pawn shops, schools, etc., to better understand the underlying causes of crime and help law enforcement administrators to devise strategies to deal with the problem. GIS is also useful for law enforcement operations, such as allocating police officers and dispatching to emergencies.
Underlying theories that help explain spatial behavior of criminals include environmental criminology, which was devised in the 1980s by Patricia and Paul Brantingham, routine activity theory, developed by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson and originally published in 1979, and rational choice theory, developed by Ronald V. Clarke and Derek Cornish, originally published in 1986. In recent years, crime mapping and analysis has incorporated spatial data analysis techniques that add statistical rigor and address inherent limitations of spatial data, including spatial autocorrelation and spatial heterogeneity. Spatial data analysis helps one analyze crime data and better understand why and not just where crime is occurring.
Research into computer-based crime mapping started in 1986, when the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded a project in the Chicago Police Department to explore crime mapping as an adjunct to community policing. That project was carried out by the CPD in conjunction with the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University, reported on in the book, Mapping Crime in Its Community Setting: Event Geography Analysis. The success of this project prompted NIJ to initiate the Drug Market Analysis Program (with the appropriate acronym D-MAP) in five cities, and the techniques these efforts developed led to the spread of crime mapping throughout the US and elsewhere, including the New York City Police Department's Compstat.
Applications of crime mapping
Crime analysts use crime mapping and analysis to help law enforcement management (e.g. the police chief) to make better decisions, target resources, and formulate strategies, as well as for tactical analysis (e.g. crime forecasting, geographic profiling). New York City does this through the CompStat approach, though that way of thinking deals more with the short term. There are other, related approaches with terms including Information-led policing, Intelligence-led policing, Problem-oriented policing, and Community policing. In some law enforcement agencies, crime analysts work in civilian positions, while in other agencies, crime analysts are sworn officers.
From a research and policy perspective, crime mapping is used to understand patterns of incarceration and recidivism, help target resources and programs, evaluate crime prevention or crime reduction programs (e.g. Project Safe Neighborhoods, Weed & Seed and as proposed in Fixing Broken Windows), and further understanding of causes of crime.
- Crime analysis
- Criminal Reduction Utilising Statistical History
- Public Participation GIS
- Geographic profiling
- Brantingham, Paul J., Patricia L. Brantingham (eds) (1981). Environmental Criminology. Waveland Press. ISBN 0-88133-539-8.
- Chainey, Spencer, Jerry Ratcliffe (2005). GIS and Crime Mapping. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-86099-5.
- Cohen, Lawrence E., Marcus Felson (1979). "Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach". American Sociological Review (American Sociological Association) 44 (4): 588–607. doi:10.2307/2094589. JSTOR 2094589.
- Cornish, Derek, Ronald V. Clarke (1986). The Reasoning Criminal. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-96272-7.
- Police.uk - Official street-level crime map for England and Wales
- MapNimbus.com - MapNimbus is the ultimate public web crime mapping portal. With MapNimbus you can view crimes in your area, receive email notifications of new crimes around a specified address, and also view sex offender information.
- CrimeMapping.com - Dedicated to helping law enforcement agencies provide the public with valuable information about crime activity by neighborhood.
- CrimeReports.com - The largest crime mapping and sex offender website in the world, with over 850 law enforcement partners across North America.
- SpotCrime.com - A crime-mapping website covering major cities in the United States and around the world.
- Mapping & Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) - National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
- Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science
- CLEARMAP - Chicago Police Department GIS
- InstantAtlas- Online crime map solutions for analysing police crime statistics and crime trends.
- CrimeMapper - Crime mapping system used to produce national and local crime maps by all police forces in England and Wales
- My Neighborhood Update - Accurate, near real-time neighborhood police activity.
- Crimedar - Online crime mapping using the latest Microsoft Silverlight Bing Map Technology.
- HunchLab - Web-based software for crime mapping.
- Crime Mapping Symbology (CMS) - Free Crime Mapping Symbology for GIS applications.
- RAIDS Online Free public crime mapping and analysis covering 22 states in the US
- GovMapper Crime Maps - Crime report mapping system for police and the public
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