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Keeping an eye on crime

PUBLISHED: 13:48 12 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:42 08 July 2010

One of the country's most advanced CCTV systems has come on line across Breckland - and is already helping tackle boy racers in Swaffham.

One of the country's most advanced CCTV systems has come on line across Breckland - and is already helping tackle boy racers in Swaffham.

The £3.5m state-of-the-art surveillance tool designed to replace the district's dilapidated analogue video set-up is now fully operational and undergoing final testing.

More than 60 digital cameras have been installed in Dereham, Swaffham, Watton, Thetford and Attleborough providing sharper images and more flexible coverage to help police drive down crime and antisocial behaviour.

Another four wireless cameras are kept on standby to be deployed at short notice to communities and villages where the need arises.

Police have revealed that the cameras have been used to record those causing “inappropriate behaviour” as part of a series of measures to drive out anti-social motoring in Swaffham, which includes threatening to seize cars.

People living around the Theatre Street car park had called for officers to take action.

Theresa Hewett, Breckland Council's executive member for communities, said: “The community has identified this as a problem and the council and police have again teamed-up to tackle an issue that's affecting local people. This joint action sends out a clear message - we will tackle this together quickly and effectively.”

Swaffham Safer Neighbourhood Team inspector Ady Porter said: “Theatre Street car park in Swaffham is currently a policing priority for the Safer Neighbourhood Team. We have received reports of noisy music and football being played at the car park, and in some cases cars are being driven in an anti-social way to the annoyance of residents.”

“A number of warning notices have already been issued to those caught driving in an anti-social way and they now risk having their cars seized. This should send a clear message to the small minority that cause the problems - this behaviour does impact on the community and will not be tolerated.”

Unlike their cumbersome predecessors, the new Breckland cameras are able to rotate at a speed of 480deg every second, and can be positioned at the touch of a button from a renovated control centre in Thetford.

They also have infra-red capability for night-time recording, and a 35x optical zoom which, in perfect conditions, can allow an operator to read the number plate of a vehicle more than half a mile away from the camera.

The pictures were displayed last Thursday to members of Breckland Council, which has signed a 10-year partnership deal with Advance Monitoring Solutions (AMS) and Axis Communications.

John Wilkins, technical director for AMS, said there was enough capacity in the system to encourage businesses and communities to link into it, generating commercial revenue to offset the cost.

w(blob) A crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Watton has resulted in three arrests and a formal police reprimand for four boys, all aged under 14.

Two boys were arrested on suspicion of causing damage to a shop roof after they were found climbing on top of shop roofs in the High Street. A 12-year-old was charged with threat to destroy property and assaulting a police constable and a 13-year-old released on bail.

Another 12-year-old boy was charged with causing criminal damage by painting graffiti on Goddards Court car park wall and in a separate incident a 13-year-old boy received a formal police reprimand after breaking a window in the town centre

A Watton Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) spokesman said they had been working closely with young people to steer them away from trouble. Police were also carrying out extra high visibility patrols in hot-spot areas in response to community concerns.

Police have organised a diversionary activity over the Easter break for young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

A free rock climbing session will take place on Friday, April 9 between 12pm and 5pm at Wayland Community High School.

To contact Watton SNT call 0845 456 4567 or email sntwatton@norfolk.pnn.police.uk .

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