Crime 'hotspot' surprise in Banastre Avenue, Cardiff
A resident of a suburban Cardiff street says he is baffled after it appeared on an online police map as a crime hotspot.
Banastre Avenue in Gabalfa has only 14 homes but online crime mapping suggests it has an average of 19 crimes a month.
Ward Broughton is worried it might put off potential house purchases.
But police say the street had only one crime reported in three months and it is likely to be because the figures included nearby locations.
Mr Broughton, a 40-year-old teacher, was consulting the recently launched www.police.uk website for information about crime in the area.
He was surprised to find his street branded with a crime rate similar to the busiest parts of Cardiff city centre.
"Banastre Avenue comprises only 14 houses, no pubs, no clubs, not even a takeaway," he said.
"Yet for three months in a row it has had well above average reported crime."
In December 2010 the map showed 12 crimes reported in the vicinity of Banastre Avenue, with 16 in January 2011 and 19 in February.
Five crimes in both January and February were described as violent.
Mr Broughton claimed that in an area with an incidence of 77 to 94 crimes per 1,000 people his street of around 30 residents was tagged with a crime rate equivalent to 400-600 per 1,000.
"I live on Banastre Avenue and I am certain that the level of crime and violence is nowhere near the published figure, but I can't understand why the figures are so wrong," he said.
Mr Broughton points out that nearby Whitchurch Road - a busy commuter route with a string of shops, takeaways and bars - shares the same postcode but has its own separate statistics.
However, he's noticed that the University Hospital of Wales - visible from his house over the A48 Eastern Avenue - appears on the map to be a crime-free zone.
"There are no crime statistics for the Heath hospital at all - I can only assume that we are getting hit with the whole of A&E's Saturday night revelry," he said.
"I don't know if the figures would directly affect insurance, but they would put off potential house purchasers."
South Wales Police said the website and maps had been compiled by the Home Office, but the force did not consider Banastre Avenue to be a crime hotspot.
"The figures for a street, particularly those with a small number of properties, are likely to include records of incidents from other nearby locations due to the way the statistics are collated," said a spokesperson.
"These nearby locations could, for example, include a shopping centre or a number of pubs.
"We would encourage members of the public to contact their local neighbourhood policing teams who can provide local context and explain what action is happening to tackle any genuinely high-crime locations."
The force confirmed that Banastre Avenue's only reported crime in the first three months of 2011 was a theft of car number plates.
The Home Office said that local police forces were responsible for the data and how it was mapped, with public privacy being an important consideration.
"In order to protect the identity of victims, crimes will continue to be mapped to an anonymous point on, or near, the point on the street where they occurred," said a Home Office spokesman.
"Forces continue to provide additional location indicators in public spaces, such as shopping centres or travel hubs, to ensure that crime in these areas can be mapped as accurately as possible.
"Forces will be aware of any anomalies and will be updating these in the future."