Technology: Murder Most Horrid

London’s crime history is tapping into technology. Famous murders and murderers like the heinous crimes of Jack the Ripper to the organised crimes of the Kray Twins, London’s East-end gangsters are all being plotted onto a map; locating every London murder case since the 19th Century. The website is called Murder Map and launched this May by Nick Cullen and Peter Stubley, using Google technology, Google Maps to plot more than 400 homicide cases, based on news agency Central News' court reports and the Old Bailey's archives. Together, Nick Cullen and Peter Stubley are creating this ghoulish grid, which could be seen as chilling and insensitive to the families of murder victims, but fascinating and useful to others.

Nick Cullen says about Murder Map, "We don't want to upset people but want to report cases as accurately as possible. You wouldn't have asked a reporter not to report on the 7/7 bombings because it was an important story. Equally, it is important that every murder is reported. If murders are just forgotten about, it's a sign of a callous society that doesn't care about bloodshed happening in its midst." While, a victim of crime, Barry Mizen, father of the late 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen who died after being attacked in south east London, in 2008 said that he did not have a problem with the site since the facts are public knowledge.

Other websites map crime levels by area, which has led some to question whether this new technology tool is actually necessary. However, if Murder Map develops to a stage at which decades of homicides are plotted, it could provide useful insight into shifts in crime patterns, which could in turn influence policy makers including lawyers and police. Moreover, at this particular moment in time there is no similar website out there for any other city and may be if there were such sites, sociologists and psychologists could make interesting comparisons and gain an insight into why certain area are more prone to murder crimes than others.

It seems not quite right to say ‘the best thing’ about Murder Map is that it is continuously and constantly updated (!) as new convictions are found; as I would rather a City devoid of murder. Either, way it is a free resource giving a complete picture of homicide in modern society. Through technology the world is at our fingertips and so are our neighbourhoods. Five minutes spent Googling can reveal a lot that you didn't know about your local area. In Chicago, the use of crime maps first brought the concept to wide attention, and their use in the US has inspired Britain. Boris Johnson, our London mayor, in the lead up to the mayoral elections announced plans to use technology and publish ‘New York-style’ crime maps of London. New York has seen a dramatic fall in crime - over the past 10 years homicides have dropped by over 75%. So, may be and hopefully Murder Map will have the same impact.

Photo Credit: Murder Map Website