back to article Crime UK site gets 400m hits, drives down property values

The UK's crime map has received over 400 million hits as worried citizens desperately try to get a grip on the level of hoax calls. Tory MP Richard Graham fired a pile of questions at the Home Office last week, asking among other things whether hoax calls were recorded as antisocial behaviour. Other questions included what …

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Such an annoying site

I'm house hunting at the moment and I can't help checking places out on this map. It has put me off streets and/or areas, even though I know that the data may be questionable. It's hard not to let it influence your vision of a neighbourhood if you don't already know a place well. I guess that's just how humans work. We can't know everything from first hand experience, so we readily accept second hand information and build it into our world view. The fact of the matter is that the cost of being careful feels low compared the the potential cost of being wrong.

In this case, the cost of turning away from considering properties in a certain street is lower than the cost of moving into a street that does turn out to be dangerous. That's because the cost of not looking at the street is probably only financial (maybe missing a bargain), but will never be known anyway, whereas the cost of living in a street where you get mugged or burgled could be very high because once you live there, quality of life comes into play.

As a buyer, I use this site to rule out looking at certain properties, based on what the site suggests the street would be like to live in.

If I was selling a house on a nice street, that showed as iffy on the website, I think I'd be justifiably miffed.

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I'm also house shopping

And I refuse to look at the site. I see no point in its existence other than to make people afraid, and I refuse to take part.

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Silver badge

But did you treat it as a comparative exercise?

The site improved my opinion of several areas.

Looking at the reported numbers around my current residence and my former residences, and on streets and areas that I have my own opinion about near my current and former residences gave me a pretty good idea of how good the numbers are. On several occasions, my pessimistic guesses about places were debunked; I find it hard to believe there's much underreporting on there so much lower than expected numbers made me feel more confident about some places I might otherwise have sought to avoid.

That was just at the deciding what to view stage, though. I've used tried and trusted "have a walk around" method on anything I've actually looked at.

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Not really

"But did you treat it as a comparative exercise?"

I don't trust the numbers, or the people generating them, so not really. ;-)

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Not UK

England and Wales only.

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed!

Harrogate (one of the lowest crime rates in the country) looks like a ghetto slum compared to some of the rough parts of Leeds.

This site doesn't show scale of incident. A curtain twitcher calling because someone is skate boarding in their car park gets reported in one area, where as a mild stabbing doesn't as its just how things are, and he'll get the lads round instead.

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@indeed

Having managed a store purveying in fine wines and other such alcoholic beverages in Harrogate I can confirm that it is a ghetto slum (Sales figures of nasty cheapo lager and Lambrini prove it). Apart from a few nice streets around the Stray it is just council estate after council estate.

Leeds has its fair share of rough estates but the locals tend to pick fights with the police directly so these instances may not make it into the figures.

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Check sources

It IS a street by the stray that I was talking about...

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Anonymous Coward

it just goes to show

Not all crime is actually that bad.

When you call someone a criminal, it doesn't automatically mean that they've a bank robber or a rapist. Some criminals are good people too.

You need to take these stats with a pinch of salt, if a street you walk down every day is apparently a hotbed for crime and yet you have seen no such thing, who is bullshitting who? The police or the people...

Fact is that the streets are actually pretty safe. If you want to buy a house based on what some silly made up numbers on the internet say, then go ahead and live your sterile life. Don't forget to bleach the toilet seat after each use and install an antibacterial footbath at the front door of your new home. Germs are criminals too /sarcasm.

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That word "decimate" ... I don't think it means (etc.) ...

"Nimby-ists are understandably paranoid that this sort of figure-skewing can decimate their property values, making the likes of South Central Guildford look akin to South Central LA."

I seriously doubt that anywhere in Guildford (or anywhere else in Surrey, for that matter) will be worth more, acre for acre, than a similar sized lot in South Central LA. Property values down there are shamelessly high ... Worse than Central London, even.

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FAIL

Regarding this statement

Incidentally, he said, the site cost £300,000 to develop. In government terms this is probably a drop in the ocean, but the figure has drawn questions from developers. One has suggested he was able to knock up a similar site in a question of hours. ®

Yes cant just everybody do it better !!!!

if i got a penny for every time i heard a Techie criticize somebody else's work !!! i would be righer than gates + jobs put together.

Yes i used to be guilty of the doing so.

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Yes, and...

Mr Knocked One Up In A Few Hours's site would've performed even worse on launch day. Bedroom coders knocking things up are not the same as creating scaleable web apps.*

* I'll concede that this wasn't a scaleable web app either after the launch day fiasco but you know what I mean...

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Gav
Alert

No problem

I could do this in a couple of hours.

Of course, it wouldn't be tested in any way, or have any guarantee of being secure, or have any user documentation, or support, or any load testing, or any guarantee of delivering what you wanted in the first place, or work beyond the current year, or any regard for industry standards or best practice. You need to follow an accessibility and security policy? Don't make me laugh!

And don't call me if it falls over, cos I'll be busy knocking up some other half-assed rush-job and won't remember a thing about this one. And, no, I won't have written any technical documentation either, so good luck to anyone you bring in to fix it.

But, yeah, couple of hours no problem.

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Site cost

At a guess, a lot of the cost of the site would be for massaging the incompatible figures from all the different forces into a single data format.

The rest of the cost would as usual being for paying consultants.

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Stop

Enough Already

When you know the effort required in setting up a government web site, getting the data, hardware and accreditation sorted out, as well as bidding it, please feel free to comment on the cost.

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Happy

Well...

If it's anything like the handful of Gov projects I was once involved in, it will consist of one coder, one system admin, 7 managers and shed-load of meetings all over the country to ultimately achieve nothing like the original specs!

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Paris Hilton

"similar site in a question of hours"

But the real question has to be how many Elephants in a question of hours?

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Unhappy

Liability

So if the value of your house has gone down overnight as a result of grossly inaccurate data on this web site, who is going to pay the liability bill?

From what has been reported, no attempts where made before publishing this data to ascertain the accuracy, despite the impact it may have on comunities and individuals.

Would be interesting to see the project's risk register, to see how much thinking they had done before publishing.

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send the bill to:

Mr Shi Thappens

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Jobs Horns

At Last

A good way to get someone to drop their asking price (further).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regarding this statement

I'd guess you have a lot of people criticizing your work since you are unable to spell properly, or construct valid sentences.

Assuming the £300,000 was just for the development of the website, and not including running costs etc., then it's very expensive for what it is. I'd be interested to see how long was spent developing this.

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FAIL

replying to posts

See that purple "Reply to this post" button at the bottom of each post, if you click that then you're reply drops right in there below the relevant post rather than several posts below...

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Cool

Like this you mean? :0)

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this one too.

eventually.

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Megaphone

oh do please STFU

I have to prepare a full draft with a very knowledge of grammar to get my point across.

Live with the fact that not all of us have your high standard of English.

do you have any idea what work i do? I'll answer that for you, NO

Very little of my work has anything to do with spelling. and when it does i use a little tool called spell check. no its not perfect but it passes for what i need it to do.

I'd guess you would have a lot of people criticizing your work if you had to work with people.

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Anonymous Coward

Antisocial Behaviour

According to the site there has been only one recorded incident on our street. Which is true. However it shows the incident as being one of antisocial behaviour, which is not true. OK so slashing somebody's tyres is pretty antisocial, but it's also criminal damage. So either the site is inaccurate or the forces are recording incidents in correctly. I suspect the latter since the site and it's operators gain nothing from such inaccuracies, the police on the other hand do gain something by recording a crime as a less serious incident.

The curtain twitcher scenario is a red herring. We have one down our street and she has called the police and council on a few occasions to report antisocial behaviour. The authorities have taken no action since they did not consider the reported behaviour to be anisocial or illegal. As such these reported incidents would not be recorded as instances of antisocial behaviour.

If, however, somebody made a hoax call then it should be recorded as a crime, because that's what it is. For example reporting a fire where there was none is a crime. This happened just round the corner from us a few years ago when a kid thought it would be fun for a load of fire engines turn up at school.

The site does, however, need to mark the crimes down on the street where they occurred. Not on a nearby street.

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Anonymous Coward

Statistical manipulation

My ex (a copper) was always moaning about how they are continuously being told to change how certain crimes are reported in order to make crime levels of a specific type appear to be dropping.

Had all your money and mobile phone taken from you in Leeds? Robbery right? Wrong! Try 'Theft from person'.

A husband comes home pissed, breaks his wife's nose and smashes the house up. Assault? Nope! 'Domestic disturbance'.

"In other news: West Yorkshire Police are pleased to report robberies and violent assaults are the lowest they've been for 20 years!" Yeah, funny that...

But RE: "The site does, however, need to mark the crimes down on the street where they occurred. Not on a nearby street."

Really??!! Think about it. Just for a minute longer...

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Anonymous Coward

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

There's a quiet little street near us that has never had any problems. Almost the middle of nowhere, less than a dozen houses and one farm and one government site. The crime figures showing up on the map are pretty shocking. However the government building is a prison, the houses were originally built to house prison staff. The crimes recorded on this silly database were apparently mostly committed by inmates or visitors.

House prices are already pretty cheap down there since a lot of people don't want to live opposite a prison, so this website probably won't depress them further. However the residents I know who live there say it's very quiet and a lovely rural location, you can't even see much of the prison since it's hidden behind hedges and trees.

It's a pretty extreme example, but it just goes to show that without some background knowledge most statistics can be misleading.

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Love the crime maps site

It proves beyond doubt that I'm doing the right thing moving.

In December there were 35 reported crimes on my street, and from the nightly wail of sirens it's probably an accurate figure.

In the same month there were 18 reported crimes in the whole town where I'm moving.

Trouble is my car insurance company don't seem to have access to these figures yet, as my insurance cost hasn't come down with the change of address...

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If anything...

If anything the crime map will reduce perception of crime. Unfortunately it only shows figures for one month at a time so hard to get good data but most roads in my town have zeros crimes and even the town centre only has a couple of hundred per month.

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Hoax calls as an art form

I think our local MP was probably referring to the following story:

"A WOMAN responsible for almost 1,000 hoax calls and getting a Gloucester street labelled as one of the most crime-ridden in the UK has been jailed.

A 45-year-old female was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison after pleading guilty to seven offences under The Communications Act at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court.

The court heard that on one occasion, she claimed she was being attacked, but when the emergency services arrived, she asked for five pounds and a cigarette lighter.

Tuesday's hearing followed an investigation into 514 hoax or inappropriate calls to police and 434 to the ambulance service over a six month period.

As well as wasting valuable police time, she damaged the reputation of nearby Where-she-lives Street which was revealed by the national press as one of the worst in the UK for anti-social behaviour based on crime maps issued by the home office."

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Pint

See here for alternative site

For all those people who have been talking about the "nocked up in an evening" site - you can find it here;

http://www.crimesearch.co.uk/

Now you can criticise it (in the correct pedantic meaning of the word) on the basis of a certain amount of information.

Give the man a pint.

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Paris Hilton

Shock! Horror! UK crime figures under reported for years?

Well, if everyone knew then what we are able to know now then there would be no delta shift would there?

As there is there must have been none if you know wot I meen 'arry

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Joke

Re: "Hoax calls as an art form"

Tee hee!

She was probably sponsored by Leeds City Council as it really has the most burgled streets in Europe?

Anything to take the heat of yes?

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Megaphone

Vote ConDem(n)...

... else we will list your area as a crime blackspot

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Unhappy

Under reporting happens, too

There are some notable scumbag areas round here where reporting a crime will get you beaten up, branded a paedophile, your wife threatened and your windows broken. So people in those areas tend to not report crimes, skewing figures in the *other* direction.

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