Fearing burglary is rational only if you know the burglary rate.

Channel 4 found this spot in Leeds which, it is claimed, is England’s burglary hot spot – and they created documentary TV based on it.   In the first 20 minutes of the programme, we created 1 map and 3 charts, uploaded them to our site and Tweeted 4 mini stories based on crime in Leeds.

In 20 minutes.

We’ve had great response to that – people wondering how we did it so speedily; others interested to see how crime rates are used to COMPARE one place with another (a major shortcoming of the Home Office’s attempt to make crime data available).

We also had a Tweet from someone who said “no offense – but that line’s saying mint cake consumption is highest in Kendal – it’s a numbers game”.

Well we didn’t take offense, but it’s not a numbers game – that’s what RATES are all about and why much government data released to the public is not useful.

When we say (as we did) that burglary is a bigger problem in Leeds than England, but that West Yorkshire police are bringing it down faster in Leeds, then that declaration is accurate. It’s accurate because the number of burglaries per head of population in Leeds is indeed much higher than in England generally, and that if you plot all the monthly burglary rate data over time, then the slope of the Leeds chart is much steeper down than that for England.

Oh and Kendall mint cake?  If it was ONLY a numbers game, then (contrary to our contributors belief) there will be far fewer bars sold IN Kendall than outside. However, per head of Kendal’s population it may well be the case that mint cake is far more popular there than anywhere else.  In marketing speak, it’s the difference between volume and penetration – and it applies to crime as well as cake.

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