The Law of Unintended Consequences

Are crime maps always a good thing?

Crime Map
It’s surely good to know beforehand if you are going to be living or working in a high crime area, isn’t it? Surely it’s a good thing if maps are published showing where crime occurs?

The answer, of course, is only if you are buying property. If you are selling, then the price you can get for your property will be affected by the perceived crime rate.

Which is why this report by Direct Line insurance cited by the Guardian newspaper makes so much sense: people will under-report crime if they think it will affect the local crime rate statistics and thus have a negative effect on their property’s market value.

So publishing maps of high crime areas may in fact deter the reporting of crime. No doubt a future corollary of this will be claims by politicians and police that publishing crime maps reduces crime.

Always good to see examples of the Law of Unintended Consequences in action.

15 July 2011

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