Eagle eyes keep criminals in line

MORE than 300 people have been arrested or fined over the past yeaer thanks to the 24-hour surveillance provided by CCTV.

They include illegal immigrants and people guilty of assault as well as those involved in criminal damage, possession of drugs, drink-driving and shoplifting.

During 2011 prompt action taken by Fenland District Council’s CCTV team led directly to 257 arrests and 124 other offenders being fined.

There is now a network of 66 cameras across the district, all of which are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the year the team responded to 3,451 separate incidents, ranging from minor anti-social behaviour to serious crime. Its successful inventions include:

• Five people were arrested and charged with assault after being filmed fighting in March High Street. One man had been left unconscious on the pavement after receiving numerous punches and kicks to the head. CCTV operators alerted police and provided live images of the fracas.

• Two illegal immigrants were arrested after CCTV team’s instant reaction to reports of three men emerging from the back of a lorry in Cromwell Road, Wisbech. Operators conducted an area search that led to one man being located in Weasenham lane and another in Falcon Road.

• One man was detained after he and an accomplice were caught on camera in Wisbech removing items from a charity clothing bank in Somers Road car park. The information was passed to police leading to the man’s arrest and the recovery of more than 70 bags of stolen clothing from his home.

• A man was picked up by police and given a fixed penalty fine after being spotted leaving licensed premises in Market Hill, Chatteris, and then removing and damaging a nearby hanging basket.

Councillor David Oliver, Fenland’s portfolio holder responsible for community safety, said: “The figures underline the vital role the CCTV operation plays and how effective it is. It helps us to work very closely not only with the police but also with organisations such as Shopwatch and Pubwatch to combat crime and anti-social behaviour or all sorts and to make people feel more secure.”