Online maps showing detailed crime patterns in communities across the UK will be available to residents by the end of the year. Web users will be able to compare crime rates in their area with neighbouring communities.

The crime maps will details where and when a crime has happened - as long as it has been reported, of course. The level of detail will drill down to individual streets for certain crimes.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the initiative as part of a Policing Green Paper. She said: "By rolling out up-to-date interactive crime maps we can better inform people about crime problems in their area, and enable them to have much more of a say in what their local police focus on."

"This will help to increase public confidence in the police and make communities safer."

See also:

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The scheme has already been trialled by several police forces around the country, including the West Yorkshire force who launched a similar programme in February 2005.

Catherine Archer, the chief executive of West Yorkshire Police Authority, told PC Advisor: "We believe that people have an absolute right to be informed about the crime in their local area and be directed to information that would help them to prevent becoming victims of crime in the future.

"Based on their postcode, users are provided with a map of their local council ward, with dots marking where a range of crime types have occurred in the past month.

"Perceptions of crime tend to be higher than reality, so most people feel reassured about the level of crime in their area and we have received only positive feedback."

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