ICO Warns Of Crime Map Privacy Dangers

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has welcomed the newly launched online crime maps, but has warned that the police must take action to ensure the service doesn’t breach privacy laws.

The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, who was invited to consult on the project, said the maps in their current state do not breach the privacy of individuals, but that regular reviews must take place to ensure the safeguards are “effective in practice”.

Graham said in a press release: “I welcome the drive to improve accountability through greater transparency. Crime mapping can be an effective means of letting people know what crimes are taking place in their local area although care needs to be taken as this can potentially have an impact on the privacy of individuals such as victims or witnesses.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) lead on crime information Deputy Chief Constable Neil Rhodes also acknowledged the need to protect privacy whilst still providing relevant information.

“The interest of victims are at the heart of this new approach and the Government is also working with the Information Commissioner to ensure that the identities of individuals are protected whilst giving people the information they need to challenge their police force and change their communities,” Rhodes said.

Launched on Tuesday, the crime map allows users to view street-by-street crime statistics through the police.uk site. The £300,000 site also contains the contact details of local neighbourhood policing teams and information on upcoming beat meetings.