Householders fail to report crimes over property price fears

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More than one in eight Yorkshire homeowners have not reported crimes since online crime maps were introduced for fear of putting off prospective buyers or tenants, a survey suggests today.

The Government’s crime mapping website – which allows users to check crimes in their neighbourhood by simply entering a postcode – attracted 300,000 internet hits a minute when it went live in February.

Ministers have hailed the scheme as a way of holding police to account, but some residents fear it will sully their local area’s reputation and devalue their homes.

Thirteen per cent of Yorkshire residents surveyed by insurer Direct Line said they had witnessed a crime since February but had decided not to report it.

The survey’s nationwide results indicate an even more worrying trend. Of those respondents who had not reported a crime, 11 per cent had either been the victim of, or witnessed, a violent assault.

Three-quarters of respondents said they would use an online crime map to research a new home and would be deterred by a high number of offences.

Andrew Morrell, head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said: “It is extremely worrying that we may see crimes go unreported.

“With a struggling housing market, home owners are concerned about doing anything that could prevent a potential property sale or rental and that can include turning a blind eye if the incident could appear later on a police crime map.

“Householders who do not report a crime may struggle to secure payment from their insurer for any losses incurred, as they will not have a crime number to reference an incident occurred.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is the crime – rather than crime maps – that has the impact.

“Communities will already be broadly aware of the crime and anti-social behaviour issues affecting the area where they live.

“Street-level crime data is about giving communities the information they need to hold the police to account so that crime can be tackled.

“We want the public to talk to police and report concerns. The site also gives information about your local police team, beat meetings and how you can report crime.”