Crime maps go live across England and Wales

All 43 police forces across England and Wales are now offering web-based crime maps, so residents can see exactly what's going on in their own neighbourhood.

Promised by the government last year, the online maps show police data on burglaries, robberies, vehicle crimes, violent crime and even anti-social behaviour at a ward level.

Police bodies in Wales and the East Midlands will run their maps collaboratively, letting users view crime rates in areas near to their own.

Neil Rhodes, the Association of Chief Police Officers' head for the crime mapping project, explained that police forces have mapped crimes for years, using the data to focus their efforts more effectively. "The information now on the forces' websites has a different more community-focused perspective and means the public can now look at crime levels in their community simply by putting their postcode into their local police force's website," he said.

Echoing previous claims that releasing more detailed information will help calm public fears about crime, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said in a statement: "By rolling out up-to-date crime maps communities are able to take an informed view about crime in their local area. Providing this information to the public helps to make the police even more accountable."

The first such maps based on Google's mapping service rolled out last August for London, showing the most crime-ridden boroughs in the capital as well as those that are nice and safe.