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More than 5.2 million people have not reported crimes for fear of deterring home-buyers or renters since the Home Office's online crime map was launched in February 2011, according to research from insurers Direct Line.

An online poll of 2,685 adults conducted on behalf of the insurance company found that of the people not reporting crimes, nearly 75 per cent had ignored antisocial behaviour such as drug-dealing or vandalism for fear of devaluing the neighbourhood.

According to Direct Line, online police crime maps are playing an increasingly important role in property purchase and rental decisions.

Nearly 75 per cent of people would use a police online crime map to research a new home and would be deterred by high levels of reported crime, the findings show.

Twenty-four per cent of people would not report a future crime if they felt it would affect their ability to sell or rent out their property, the research found. A further 9 per cent would actively discourage a neighbour from reporting a crime if they felt it would impact their ability to move.

The crime-mapping website went live in February, and in the following month the Home Office announced it had received nearly 400 million hits.

Minister James Brokenshire said the high usage demonstrated a significant public appetite for this type of information.

In response to Direct Line's survey, the Home Office issued the following statement: "It is the crime that impacts negatively upon communities. Crime maps will allow residents to hold their local police to account for the level of crime and antisocial behaviour in their neighbourhood, pushing police to tackle crime which really affects the local community."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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