Thursday 2 October 2014

Street Meetings from Essex Police, UK - a first step to visualise and make them easy to find

Sun 5 Oct update: The Chelmsford District Street Meetings Map is now available showing the 76 street meetings from 1 to 31 Oct.

It's divided into two data sets, 1-15 Oct and 16-31 Oct, so as one timeline runs out, the next one begins.

From the 76 meetings, there are 41 location post codes. With one location being used seven times in the month (another one has six).

There are a few reasons I've followed this development.

1, Physical walk in Police Stations is are decreasing (Chelmsford has just one open 8am to midnight, in a city of 168,000 people). In a modern world, technology is everywhere, so calling 101 or 999 maybe adequate, but for a face to face opportunity to meet officers and have a chat about local issues is important to many - 46 locations maybe helpful.

a frame from the help video at 00:22 see below
2,  Communication is changing at a rapid pace. I've posted 80 times on this blog labelled police (the first one was 30 Nov 2010). Since Feb 2011, I've discussed police using video (and twitter).

In this example with Essex Police, it's a force that does use twitter, but at this time of writing - no officers or PCSOs are tweeting in Chelmsford (for a list, look at @EssexPoliceUK/lists). What seems to be needed is a few more officers to get enthusiastic and want to get involved - this must surely be a good idea to spread the word, messages and engage with the community.

3, Local Media should play a part. In Chelmsford, there is the Essex Chronicle and the Chelmsford Weekly News. Both could read this post and publish the map and help the public to find these meetings.

The Essex Chronicle are very fast to post anything about crime or court appearances - of course, that's part of their job, but those stories are a result of crossing a legal line. If more was done to promote safety, security and community, then maybe there would be less crime - who knows?

Original 2 Oct 14 post: Essex Police, UK have introduced Street Meetings where officers can meet the public.

These meetings are available at the force website. So how do we find them, make the most of the opportunity and make sure the word gets spread?

I've started already with a few visualisations - all work in progress. Free web tools (like Google & Twitter) are brilliantly suited to help out here. This post will be short and summarise where I am so far. 

Essex is home to 1.7 million people, and with that comes a Police Force that has 15 Districts then
1 Oct 14
split into 143 Neighbourhoods. Some are much larger than others.

The City of Chelmsford is the county and that's where I started looking at data. In Oct 14, there will about 75 Street Meetings. To find them, you have to visit far too many places on the web. 

For example, there are 12 neighbourhoods, each with their own Event area ie Baddow and Galleywood. It does say on the force websitesee what local community meetings are taking place in your area (dates and venues to appear shortly underneath right map). 

most popular post on this blog
On thinking about a timeline, it was quite easy to make sense of the meetings yesterday (1 Oct 14), make a slide, tweet that out and attend in person.

But that was only the start. the point here is to make something fast, simple and get it out there in public as soon as possible. I'm not new to assisting the Police, anyone who reads this blog will know that.

The most popular post on this blog is from attending a Warks Police meeting in a Sainsbury car park, being told about tamper proof vehicle screws, posting about it - and now it's had 37,000 views.

2 Oct 14
From there came a tweet from Sergeant Paul Austin which helped me think about the Maldon area and how fast I could make a Google Map - with 17 meetings, quite easy. And will serve well to scale for larger districts over the next few days.

View it at: Maldon District Street Meetings from Essex Police. Notice the alphabetical pushpins in date order.

This post is the first in a series looking at Essex Police Street Meetings and follows on from my older idea called #ukpolicestation where as we know, they are none albeit one central location. That not a criticism, rather an observation how the internet and technology has changed everything. 

For more on street meetings, read the Chief Constable's statement: Chief Constable announces changes to community meetings.

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