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Direct Line : fear of crime maps hits reporting of crime

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More than 5.2 million (11 per cent) people have not reported a crime because they were scared it would drive away potential purchasers or renters when the incident appeared on an online police crime map (http://www.police.uk/), reveals new research from Direct Line.

Of those not reporting crimes, 3.9 million (75 per cent) ignored anti-social behaviour such as drug dealing or vandalism for fear of demeaning the neighbourhood.  Almost half (45 per cent) of those not reporting crimes had seen vehicles stolen or vandalised near their homes.  Worryingly, serious aggravated crime is also going unreported; 11 per cent of those not reporting a crime witnessed, or was a victim of, a violent assault.  A further 16 per cent of those not reporting crimes were mugged, or witnessed someone being robbed on the street, near their home.

Online police crime maps are playing an increasingly important role in property purchase and rental decisions.  Three quarters (74 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.  A quarter (24 per cent) of people would not report a future crime if they felt it would impact their ability to sell or rent out their property.  A further 9 per cent of people would actively discourage a neighbour from reporting a crime if they felt it would impact their ability to move.

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.”

Along with the traumatic emotional impact of becoming a victim of crime, householders failing to report crimes to the police also suffered a financial impact as just 12 per cent recouped the financial cost of an incident from their insurer.  Without a crime number many homeowners were unwilling, or unable, to secure reimbursement for any financial costs sustained.

Of all the regions, residents of London (14 per cent) were most concerned about the extent to which reporting a crime could impact on their ability to sell and rent their homes.  Residents of the South West were the least concerned about the issue.

Table one:  Regional map of unreported crimes

Region Percentage of residents that have not reported a crime for fear of it showing on a police crime map and affecting house sale or rental
London 14 per cent
Yorkshire and Humber 13 per cent
North West 12 per cent
West Midlands 12 per cent
Northern Ireland 11 per cent
Scotland 11 per cent
South East 11 per cent
Wales 11 per cent
East 8 per cent
East Midlands 8 per cent
North East 8 per cent
South West 7 per cent

Source : Direct Line