Sweeping dirt under the rug


An article in the Financial Times has prompted me to give a little sneak peek into a research project I’m working on. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is opposed to Boris Johnson’s plans to publish crime data for public use. A spokesman for RICS said:

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.

Ironically, just last week I wrote,

Although “real estate developers and agents feel that public crime statistics will lower housing prices," this consequence indicates the potential success of the programs. In fact, one of the principle benefits of transparency is that ordinary citizens have the information necessary to make rational decisions. If access to knowledge of pre-existing crime conditions would adversely affect home prices, then the price should be lower. Property owners in the area would then have incentive to fight crime—both with and independent of the government.

The information would also allow the police to focus their efforts in hotspot areas and reduce crime. This would prevent house prices from falling and make the area safer for citizens.

A lot of us are unsatisfied with the status quo. Let’s hope Boris Johnson ignores the surveyors and moves forward boldly.