According to Cliff Saran’s article in Computer Weekly, Surrey police have developed an iPhone app to encourage members of the public to engage with the police and help fight crime in their area.
A similar situation arose in Vancouver after the recent ice hockey-inspired riots, where the police tried to get the public to upload amateur footage of rioters to Youtube. Although in this blogpost by DanG it appears that the police did not manage to correctly combine the use of technology with legal procedure.
Whats the problem with amateur crimefighters?
Why not though? Throughout history communities have successfully policed themselves. The notion of a police force is a relatively new one, and the frankly ludicrous situation where a law abiding citizen can face sentencing for cuffing a young rapscallion round the ears for public misbehaviour, is even more recent. If members of the public can use open data to identify crime hotspots, why should they not utilise their smartphones and cameras to help police capture criminals.