Map would detail crime rate by area

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Map would detail crime rate by area

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration announced Friday that it will allow citizens to view a map detailing the density by location of different types of crimes, including homicide and rape. The map would also detail areas of school bullying.

The new initiative, due to be implemented nationwide in 2015 after a test period, aims to alert people about crimes in their area and encourage local police forces to beef up security in their districts.

“People will be more aware of safety issues, if it’s adopted,” said the minister of security and public administration, Yoo Jeong-bok, during a briefing. “[Citizens] can compare [crime data] with other regions so local governments and communities can put more effort into enhancing the safety of their regions,” Yoo said.

While some welcome the government’s new measure, others are wary of potential drawbacks, claiming that the crime map could label some areas as so crime-ridden that the regions will be perceived as crime hotspots or slums. The map could cause a drop in real estate prices and further avoidance from people. Those opposed to the idea are also concerned about a breach of privacy.

“The government doesn’t seem to have concrete data to link the mapping system and crime rates,” said Yoon Cheol-hwan of the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice. “It can cause conflicts between regions.”

Acknowledging those concerns, the ministry said it will try to abate the side effects and maximize the benefits.

“In the process of testing the system, we’ll seek advice from experts and consult with them in order to minimize any possible problems,” said Park Chan-woo, vice minister of the Security Ministry.

Along with the crime map, the government seeks to allocate 110 million won ($97,203) to build an integrated system by the end of this year in which diverse information regarding public safety, such as the frequency of natural disasters and car accidents, is stored.

The ministry pledged to cooperate with different institutions, including the National Emergency Management Agency, the Korea Transportation Safety Authority and the land and agriculture ministries, in an effort to provide more comprehensive information for the project.

The launch of such a Web-based database system stems from President Park Geun-hye’s presidential pledge to root out what she calls four major social ills: school bullying, sexual violence, domestic violence and junk food.

During the briefing, Park asked the officials to make more efforts to rein in those crimes.

“Though we have made a lot of effort, there are still concerns and a sense of insecurity among people. I hope you will work with extraordinary determination to root them out within the term of this government,” she said.

By Park Eun-jee, Kim Hye-mi [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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