WALKSAFE is an app which alerts people when they are entering ‘high crime zones’ in the local area- but you won’t be able to take full advantage of it if you’re from Bolton or some other parts of Greater Manchester.

It pins locations of reported crime, such as sexual assault, mugging and knife crime by using police.uk data. 

The app is refreshed twice a week using new data from the monthly police reports.

According to a spokesperson for the team: 'The WalkSafe map is designed to allow users to spot patterns and identify trouble hot spots where there is repeated crime.

“Whilst a single count is just a snapshot, it is the repeated patterns over time that give the most knowledge.” That’s why the map is refreshed twice a week with new data from the monthly police reports.”

Shortly after the body of Sarah Everard was found and the topic of women's safety came to light, the WalkSafe app saw a surge in users attracting more than 500,000 new users in just one week.

The Bolton News: Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA)Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA)

However, people in Bolton and Greater Manchester aren’t able to take full advantage of the app’s safety features due to an error in Greater Manchester Police’s set of data.

How does the app work?

The WalkSafe map shows reports of crime taken from monthly police reports in the area, including sexual assault, mugging, knife crime, and pickpocketing.

It shows you how many crimes have been reported in the area- and also how long ago it was reported.

This is what the coloured dots on the app mean:

  • Red – violence/sexual assault
  • Black – knife crime
  • Light Blue – feeling unsafe
  • Yellow – mugging

The colours on the TapSafe feature will change depending on the time of day, allowing for discreet use at night time reducing the risk of alerting a potential attacker.

As well as police reports, the app also allows people to record when they ‘feel unsafe’.

The user can report anything from rowdy groups of people, drunks, if there is a police presence and even if the area is poorly lit.

There are many features on the app which have been designed to keep walkers safe and keep people more informed about the crimes that have been reported around them.

Emma Kay said: “We have taken great care to develop features within the app that put knowledge and data in the hands of the user.

“For example, the HomeSafe feature automatically alerts friends or family if loved ones fail to get home on time. It then shows the location of the person so you can check if they are ok.”

Why don’t crimes in Bolton and Greater Manchester show up on the Walk Safe app?

If you use the app to find crime hotspots in Greater Manchester you will notice that the app is suspiciously devoid of crime reports.

The Bolton News:

At the time of writing (20 April) only two crime hotspots are visible in Bolton; a sexual assault report and violence in Links Drive.

In Manchester, one knife crime and sexual assault and violence report was made near Sheffield Street.

However, this isn’t because the streets of Greater Manchester are crime free.

The Bolton News: Snapshot of the WalkSafe app in Manchester versus BlackburnSnapshot of the WalkSafe app in Manchester versus Blackburn

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say it’s down to “challenges” with stop and search data in their new system which means they are unable to publically share this data on the police.uk website.

A GMP spokesperson said: "The information required by police.uk includes data relating to crimes and data relating to stop and search encounters.

“We have identified challenges with the stop and search data in our new system and are working hard with the supplier to apply corrections to historic data and to improve data entry."

"We are working through challenges and have seen significant progress over the last 18 months, which means we are sharing and reporting on lots of different data across crime types, whilst we continue to improve systems so that we can share all data.”

They added that if specific requests are made to districts, GMP can share this data “providing it meets our accuracy thresholds so we do not inadvertently mislead anyone.”

When asked: ‘Do you worry that the lack of information might impede the safety of people in Greater Manchester who wish to use the app?’, GMP said they are running a public confidence survey to see how communities across Greater Manchester feel and regard their safety.

They added: “The analysis from this survey will support our plans to continue to keep Greater Manchester safe."