Monday, August 12, 2019

How Drug Crime Went Rural

The BBC has published an interactive map which they say visualizes how drug crime is moving from the inner-cities to smaller commuter towns in England & Wales. The map is largely being used to illustrate an interesting theory which is being called 'County Lines'. County Lines is what the police are calling a trend by drug gangs to expand from cities into nearby small towns, using teenagers as drug mules.

The interactive map in Drug Crime Mapped uses different colors to show where drug crime has increased or decreased in England & Wales. The BBC believe that the map shows that drug crime has fallen significantly in city centres, while at the same time it has risen sharply in many smaller towns and villages.

I don't usually post maps about crime to Maps Mania. This is largely due to the huge qualitative problems with crime data. Increases and decreases in crime figures can be hugely affected by how that data is reported and collected. Crime statistics can also be affected by sudden changes in police and government policies towards different areas of crime.

Because of the UK's government's austerity programme the police in England have suffered budget cuts for the last 8 years. This means that the UK police have had to carefully target their resources. Personally I would be very wary of the claim that drug crime has fallen 'significantly' in city centres. The definition of drug crime in the BBC report appears to be "offences involving either the possession or supply of illegal drugs". The fall in drug crimes in major cities could feasibly be due, at least partly, to the fact that the police have less officers on the streets, or because inner-city police forces have been targeting scarce resources on other areas of crime. Conversely the increases in drug-crime in smaller towns could be due to the police in those areas identifying drug-crime as an area in which to concentrate local resources.

No comments: