Victoria police say that by giving residents tools to see crime trends in their neighbourhoods, people will better protect themselves.
On Thursday, VicPD launched a crime mapping tool called Crime Reports. It takes police files and plots the type of call on a map.
“It’s an aid and it’s something that can assist people in making decisions,” said VicPD Insp. Clark Russell, officer in charge of crime prevention.
“Part of this is to encourage people to be more engaged and everyone likes a visual thing.”
Crime mapping isn’t new, but VicPD is the first in B.C. and the sixth in Canada to sign on with Crime Reports.
From VicPD’s website (vicpd.ca), people can link to the Crime Reports site by clicking the graphic on the homepage or through the Public Information drop-down menu.
On the Crime Reports site, users can enter their home or work address, or a child’s school address. The map tools toggle date ranges (three, seven, 14 or 30 days), incident layers (robberies, assaults, thefts from vehicles, proactive policing) and eventually map layers.
The latter doesn’t currently work, but is meant to allow users to click on specific neighbourhoods and form groups with which they can chat about crime issues.
People can also add anonymous tips about crimes, that go directly to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers.
Some kinds of crimes aren’t shown, including domestic disputes and sexual offences – to keep victims of those crimes anonymous, said Sgt. Grant Hamilton.
Also, some categories of crime aren’t specific enough for Victoria’s needs, said Hervey Simard, VicPD’s manager of information technology. For example, there’s no button to see where graffiti has popped up and no way to track indecent acts, such as reports of a man masturbating at bus stops recently.
Finally, the Crime Reports tool has a survey where users can provide VicPD feedback on the map’s usefulness. The link to the survey opens upon clicking a mapped icon.