BIRDSONG is the loudest sound on quiet South Marston cul-de-sac Ash Gardens. Not the wail of a police siren or the tinkle of glass as a burglar smashes his way into a family home.

But according to an official website, this quiet lane made up of just 10 houses is Swindon’s third most crime-ridden street.

Last year, there were 120 crime reports linked to the road and uploaded on the website, an official site set up by the Home Office.

They included drugs offences, assaults, sexual attacks and criminal damage.

The problem? They did not seem to have happened on Ash Gardens.

Jo Mills, 53, has lived on sleepy Ash Gardens for the last two years. Learning of its apparent reputation, she told the Swindon Advertiser: “It’s ludicrous. We’ve had nothing like that around here.”

READ MORE: Every street in Swindon ranked by crime reports on official website

Neighbour Hazel Beaver, 53, said: “It’s a safe area. It’s a glitch in the statistics.”

Another woman, 41, who asked not to be named, said: “We’ve only been here for a little while. There’s been no trouble.”

According the website, Swindon’s most crime-hit street in 2018 was Pinehurst Road with 146 offences recorded on or near the road. The High Street, Old Town, was next on the list – with 144 crimes against its name.

Paul Townsend, 53, was born in the Pinehurst Road home where he still lives. Reacting with surprise to the statistics, he said: “We’ve never been affected by anything like that. We get the odd scooter coming up and down, but that’s been clamped down on quite a bit by the police.”

Another resident, 48, said: “We’ve never had any trouble whatsoever. It’s quiet.”

So, why is there such a disparity between the story told by the figures and people’s experience and crime?

The key is the website’s approach to recording crime. Crucially, it tells site users searching for a particular road that offences happened “on or near” that street.

Ash Gardens is less than a kilometre from Gablecross Police Station and close to an industrial estate and public park.

The issue has been noted elsewhere in the country. Earlier this year, the Home Office told Gloucestershire Live: “ very clearly states that markers on the crime maps give an approximate location of where a crime has occurred and not the exact place it happened, to protect the identity of victims.

“This anonymisation process is based on methodology developed by the website, in consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office and data protection specialists, and is accurate to 2012 population and housing developments.”

Different approaches to recording crime by different police forces may also through out the figures, the government has said.

Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire and Swindon’s police and crime commissioner, told parish councillors last week that the county’s approach to recording crime gave a more accurate picture of crime rates than other places around the country.

“Wiltshire is in the forefront in that change of discipline to record crimes, rather than brush it under the carpet or not record it in the first place. Our figures are accurate,” he told South Swindon Parish Council.

“Crime has increased. But, in fact, crime is still increasing in other areas more than Wiltshire. Particularly knife crime. It has actually fallen in Wiltshire.”

According to the figures, crunched by the Swindon Advertiser, there were more than 300 streets where just one crime was recorded on or near the road in 2018.