Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 16:59 UK

Website plots area-by-area crime

New crime map website
Residents can compare their area with other parts of the country

An interactive online map allowing people to compare crime figures across England and Wales has been launched.

In January, all 43 police forces launched website crime maps and the new site pulls this information together.

Overall crime levels are posted, plus burglary, robbery, violence, vehicle crime and anti-social behaviour data.

But access to the map is proving difficult because of high demand say the creators, the National Policing Improvement Agency.

A spokesman for the agency said the website had not crashed but was loading slowly because it had proved so popular.

A statement on the website said: "Due to very high popularity, users may experience temporary issues accessing the site. The issues are being worked on and will be resolved as soon as possible."

The website was developed by the agency for the Home Office.

Once they are online, users can compare crime figures over a three-month period with the same period for the previous year.

Residents will also be able to see details of their neighbourhood police team, local policing priorities and information about events such as crime prevention meetings and local surgeries.

'Hold to account'

Policing and Crime Minister David Hanson MP said: "Crime maps are a key part of delivering neighbourhood policing and giving communities access to information like this not only improves public confidence but ensures police are responding to local people's needs.

"We know the public want this information, which will allow them to hold the police to account and help create an even more responsive and effective service."

Steve Mortimore, deputy chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, added: "Fear of crime is known to outstrip the reality. The crime map will give people the facts about local crime and what forces are doing about it.

"It is a crucial way of improving the efforts to tackle local crime, since communities that are involved in policing help reduce crime and bring more offenders to justice."

When the local maps were launched in January, the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, voiced concerns the maps could feed criminal intelligence, leading to crime hotspots.

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