Home Office stats name tiny street as crime hot spot

A policeman standing on Surrey Street.
A policeman standing on Surrey Street.
Police car. Pitcure: Jon Rigby

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A HOME OFFICE map that suggests a quiet street in Portsmouth is the city’s crime hot spot – and among the country’s worst areas – has been condemned as being a ‘gigantic blunder’.

Cllr Eleanor Scott Portsmouth City Council has launched a furious attack on the new interactive tool the government says will allow people to see ‘what crime and antisocial behaviour has happened in their streets’ after Surrey Street was ranked as one of the 10 worst streets in the country.

Surrey Street, which sits off Commercial Road and is home to a block of flats, a car park, the back of Debenhams and the Surrey Arms Pub, is flagged up as seeing 136 incidents of burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour in December. Among these are 23 anti-social behaviour incidents, 21 violent crimes, six vehicle crimes, one robbery, one burglary, and 84 ‘other crimes’.

Cllr Scott said: ‘This map is utterly absurd – it’s a gigantic blunder. Given the level of technology we have today, there is no excuse for misplacing the location.

‘The Home Office needs to apologise to businesses operating in the very small Surrey Street – it’s damaging.’

The website does say that the figures are ‘on or near’ the street where crimes were committed, but Surrey Street outstrips much bigger roads such as Guildhall Walk (78 offences) and Palmerston Road (five offences).

Home Secretary Theresa May says the information will help people see what crime is happening in their street.

However the owner of the Surrey Arms, Paul Ojla, said he is baffled by the statistics.

He said: ‘I find this situation completely absurd – the noisiest you’ll get in Surrey Street is when the posties come in for a drink after their shifts.

‘I will be writing to the Home Office to ensure they correct the map. While it’s a laughable situation on the face of things, the consequences could be extremely serious.

‘We could end up losing customers who are afraid they will be the victim of a serious crime, and insurance premiums could go up in the area.’

Pub manager Debbie Rose added: ‘In the two years I’ve been here there’s only been one incident I know of, and that was a domestic.

‘It’s a quiet street with regular customers who are older and all well behaved.’

The News has seen emails between high-ranking police officers in Portsmouth expressing their concerns about the misleading map.

The stats can be viewed at police.uk