A guarded welcome for the Radlett crime map

Pity the poor residents of Craig Mount – a not-particularly-long cul-de-sac in the South East corner of Radlett – victims (or at least witnesses), according to the new government crime map of the area, of 5 crimes in December alone. In that period, the data suggests, Craig Mount was the scene of one robbery, one vehicle crime, one violent crime and two ‘other’ crimes. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Craig Mount is Radlett’s crime hotspot, although it does seem unlikely (and there isn’t even a pub there). The doubts expressed in the 36 hours since the data went public suggest we might be seeing some ‘bunching’ of crimes for the sake of convenience or that some of these crimes may not have been crimes at all. Certainly it’s impossible to tell if any of them resulted in convictions – that data’s not here.

We are, of course, big fans of linked data from public sources but this particular release looks like it may have been bodged. Will Perrin – localism champion – on his King’s Cross blog highlights weaknesses with the data, including mapping inaccuracies that misplace crimes (he wonders why this government project isn’t using the excellent Ordnance Survey maps, recently opened up for purposes like this). More damning perhaps is the verdict of the database hackers and developers consulted in The Guardian. These are the people who’ve been pressing for the release of public data like this in usable forms and building applications on top of it. One of them points out that historic comparisons won’t be possible with the new release because only one month’s data will be available at any one time.

Adrian Short, one of the developers quoted, goes further and calls the exercise “pseudo-transparency”, and says that the site is “worse than useless”. Most of the big releases of public data we’ve seen from the data.gov.uk initiative have been received with at least qualified enthusiasm so it’s unsettling that this important block of data has been rubbished by the data jockeys.

So we’ll welcome the crime map but reserve judgement on its value at least until we’ve been convinced that it’s more than a political exercise – a settling of scores with intransigent police forces and the previous regime.

Type your postcode into the search field at police.uk for your own data. The results page provides some other useful information – the names of your beat coppers, for instance, and the dates of crime prevention events near you.

The Fair Field Christmas Fair

Borehamwood Brass
Borehamwood Brass
Fairy Cakes
Siobhan Byrne made a generous donation of fairy cakes
The human fruit machine
Children staffed the human fruit machine enthusiastically
China snowman
Not the most popular item on sale at the Christmas Fair

Blimey. Christmas is here. I know that because Fair Field Juniors has had its Christmas Fair. I’ve been going for a few years and I’m a parent and a governor at the school so you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit sentimental about it but it is always a warm and lively treat. The hall was – as usual – a happy riot and attractions filled many of the surrounding classrooms. Santa was in the building. The marvellous Borehamwood Brass entertained us, there were mince pies and mulled wine… Need I say more?

Habeas Corpus at The Radlett Centre

Paula Welham, secretary of Radlett Players, and Georgia Dove, playing Felicity Rumpers in Habeas Corpus

I ran into Paula Welham (left), secretary of the Radlett Players, and Georgia Dove, who plays Felicity Rumpers in the company’s latest production, outside Tesco in Radlett. They were handing out flyers for a version of one of Alan Bennett’s earlier plays called Habeas Corpus. By all accounts it’s a laugh riot. Wikipedia says:

It concerns the aging Dr. Arthur Wicksteed and his pursuit of a nubile patient, Felicity Rumpers. Wicksteed’s wife, Muriel, is, in turn, lusting after the charming head of the BMA, Sir Percy Shorter, who, as well as being Wicksteed’s old rival, turns out to be Felicity’s father – the result of an under-the-table liaison during an air-raid with Lady Rumpers, her mother.

Paula and Georgia were careful to point out that the production is not suitable for children and the flyer resembles a saucy seaside postcard from an earlier era.

Habeas Corpus runs from 10-13 November. Tickets cost £11 from the revamped Radlett Centre web site. And tell your friends you’re attending on the event’s Facebook page.

The Radlett Players’ web site and Facebook group.

Here we go

Radlett Wire started life as a Twitter feed. But there’s a lot going on in Radlett so the 140-character limit is chafing a bit and we’d like to publish more pics and longer stories so here we are with a blog. Do us a favour: tell us what you think we ought to do – what kind of services and content should we provide? Comment below and we’ll see what we can do…