Boris Johnson’s crime maps, data protection and land values

Unaccustomed as I am to defending Boris Johnson, I’m not convinced that publishing crime maps would necessarily result in a breach of data protection. Didn’t we solve this problem with census data decades ago?

A more intriguing objection is the complaint by RICS that “publicising high crime areas in such detail could literally wipe thousands off house prices overnight, further disadvantaging those who are already struggling to make ends meet.” I think this is possibly true, although it is a particular problem for the UK where we don’t have proper land/property taxation. In countries which use property taxes more extensively and reassess them more regularly (or indeed, at all), such data is a double edged sword. Yes, it would lead to the value of their properties dropping but that in turn would lead to them paying less tax. If you don’t get the service, you get your money back: sounds like a fair deal to me. In the UK though it would be unambiguously bad news for many, whilst enriching those fortunate enough to live in safe areas still further.


  1. Someone should tell him Charles Booth did all this a century ago and his mate Seebohm and his uncle offered the solution…:)

    Will we see maps, I wonder, with “vicious and semi-criminal” marked over whole swathes of inner city estates? Some of the areas that got that description a century ago are now amongst the best addresses (and attendant land values) in the capital I’d have thought!

  2. the property value argument seems to be a red herring. At, we are committed to making crime data public for positive uses. Ultimately, crime incident data should be available to the public, for public consumption.

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