Expansion of the government’s popular crime mapping website Police.uk has sparked concerns over falling house prices and difficulties renting rooms among Bournemouth landlords.
The website, which has received over 400 million hits since launching in February, has expanded the crimes it shows to include shoplifting, drugs, criminal damage and arson. By the end of this year, the site will also include the names of specific areas where crime levels are highest.
A Bournemouth landlord, who declined to be named, said that concerns about falling house prices have made her wary of reporting low-level crimes: “Potential lodgers checking the site is definitely a worry, it could make people reluctant to rent from me.”
The site allows members of the public to view the number and type of reported crimes in an area by entering a postcode or street name. Polina Misiu, 22, a student at Bournemouth University, used the site when deciding on accommodation. Ms Misiu said: “I was looking at places in the centre of Bournemouth, close to uni. The site listed so much crime there, that I chose Poole instead.”
A Winton estate agent said high levels of crime can negatively affect the housing market: “I was involved recently in the sale of a house which had an ASBO reported on either side of it. It fell through, the solicitors didn’t like it, and so the mortgage company withdrew their offer.”
But others don’t see the site as a threat to their business. Landlord Jason Bonner said: “I think it’s a good thing we’re able to look at the site. This sort of information shouldn’t be kept from people. Where my flat is, people are already aware of what kind of area it is.”
Police constable Andy Scarratt, of Dorset Safer Neighbourhood Team, thinks the website shouldn’t influence people when choosing where to live: “Sometimes the statistics seem high because people report crimes that initially appear to be more serious than they really are. For example, if someone reports a group of youths being noisy outside, we go and investigate. It may turn out to just be a group of boys walking home. We’ll tell them to quieten down, but that goes up as an anti-social behaviour incident, which can distort the figures. We would always encourage people to report crime though, if they don’t things can escalate.”
Concerned landlords can contact Dorset Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 in Dorset.
To view levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in Bournemouth in September 2011, click here.