Information, crime and housing

This new site was launched yesterday to much radio fanfare, it offers users a unique service.

This website provides you with helpful information about crime and policing in your area.

Enter your postcode, town, village or street into the search box below, and get instant access to street-level crime maps and data, as well as details of your local policing team and beat meetings.

Perhaps understandably the site was swamped immediately with around 75,000 hits a minute. The impact of this site could potentially be large and I hope amongst among those visiting are people with a keen grasp of regression analysis.

Choosing where to live can be difficult, and one factor making this choice difficult is ignorance of the prevalence of crime in the area. People, understandably, do not want to live in a crime hotspot, or even a tepid spot, and will pay a premium to avoid this (or rather, those unable to afford it suffer a penalty).

Previously, gathering information on crime was costly, not so much in monetary terms but with respect to time and effort, both physical and mental. I suspect many choices are informed by reputation rather than information, unduly depressing prices in some areas and  undeservedly inflating them in others.

I suspect that this site will become a regular feature in the house hunting toolkit of all wannabe Kirsty Allsops. As a result of this most anomalous results caused by mistaken crime related reputation should be eliminated. I am told that Brixton has seen a significant fall in crime, I don’t know if therfore its reputation is unduly negative but I also don’t know if this is in fact an underserved reputation for improvement. This situation will no longer continue.

If someone is able to disaggregate the data on house prices, actual crime rates and perceived crime rates before and after the introduction of this site, there may be a very good paper in it for them.

Hopefully the Home Office have already thought of this and commissioned the research necessary, or at least tried to get some PhD students on the cheap, but I doubt it. Can’t be seen to be using evidence to evaluate policy, because then it might have to play a part in making policy.

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