Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/07/police_web_site/
Crime UK site gets 400m hits, drives down property values
Just how antisocial are hoax calls?
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 plans the government has to "refine" the data, how frequently it would be updated, and how "accurate the figures were".
Graham also directed a question at Theresa May, asking "what account her Department took of the effect on (a) local residents, (b) house prices, (c) levels of awareness of crime and (d) levels of community cohesion of the publication of online crime maps; and if she will make a statement".
Home Office minister James Brokenshire confirmed that hoax calls to emergency services indeed show up as antisocial behaviour on the maps.
This goes some way to explaining why otherwise quiet streets can appear as crime-ridden on the map, thanks to a paranoid curtain-twitcher or a bunch of bored kids and a nearby phone box.
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.
Those 400 million hits lauded by Brokenshire will no doubt include plenty of house-hunters, who are being inadvertently put off entire suburbs just because a bored teenager keeps calling the local nick to ask for PC BA Con.
However, Brokenshire skirted this issue, saying it was down to individual forces to ensure the accuracy of data on the site.
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. ®