A couple of years ago, Reka Solymosi and I began a side-project on different ways of visualising spatial data. We were (well, still are) interested in how people interpret maps, and how these interpretations might differ depending the type of map being used, even when the underlying data is the same.
In recent years, a consensus has begun to emerge over the suitability of street segments for visualising and analysing the geographic patterning of crime. A number of studies have argued / demonstrated that these so-called ‘micro’ places are not only theoretically meaningful behavioural spaces, but that most action occurs among street segments.
Over the past few weeks I have spent a bit of time exploring police recorded crime trends before and after the UK-wide lockdown. There has been talk of lockdowns representing the largest criminological experiment in history.
Understanding what has happened to crime during lockdown is challenging. We are in uncharted territory and it’s proving hard to draw definitive conclusions from the latest police recorded crime data.
From reporting election results to issuing weather forecasts, maps offer a powerful, accessible and visually appealing way to convey complex information. Yet even the most beautiful maps can introduce some degree of misrepresentation.
On a day-to-day basis, the exposure citizens have to the police is often fleeting, with officers passing by in a blur as they respond to emergency calls. Official crime figures can be disputed, but the long-term trend appears to be that levels of crime in England and Wales are heading downward.