Mobile spies' help fight against crime

PUBLISHED: 13:01 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

MOBILE phone spies are being recruited to help direct CCTV cameras towards troublemakers in Ely and Soham. Camera operators are asking mobile phone users to tip them off by text message when they witness an assault, incident of shoplifting or other crim

MOBILE phone 'spies' are being recruited to help direct CCTV cameras towards troublemakers in Ely and Soham.

Camera operators are asking mobile phone users to tip them off by text message when they witness an assault, incident of shoplifting or other crime.

They will acknowledge the message, prioritise the crime and direct cameras towards the incident to pick up valuable footage to help police in their investigations.

CCTV manager Martin Beaumont said: "It has long been recognised that one of the most effective ways of fighting crime, anti-social behaviour and terrorism is through public vigilance. We only have 158 cameras in Cambridge, Ely and Soham but potentially there are something in the region of 170,000 pairs of eyes living, working and playing in these areas who can see a lot more than the police or CCTV cameras ever can.

"The CCTV system has worked hard to establish partnership working with several organisations but now we must try to establish joint working with potentially one of the most important partners of all, the public."

The new partnership comes into effect on Thursday when a pilot texting service will be introduced for the public to contact the CCTV control room direct.

But organisers are stressing that first crimes must be reported to the police by dialling 999 for serious incidents and 0845 4564 564 in all other cases.

Then the public can text 62288 and send their message direct to the control room. It is important that they define the city or town where the incident is taking place and remember that CCTV can only deal with incidents within the cameras' arcs of observation.

Once an incident has been located and recording started, the police control room will be called and images shown to officers so they can decide how to deal with it.

Over the last year, CCTV has led to 104 arrests in Ely, including 24 for shoplifting and 30 for fights or assaults. In Soham, cameras have led to six arrests including three for fights or assaults.

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