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Eye in sky is even sharper

PUBLISHED: 10:37 06 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:55 16 September 2010

A MAJOR new upgrade to Great Yarmouth's CCTV technology has been completed, giving sharper footage for prosecutions and allowing police near-live updates about crimes.

A MAJOR new upgrade to Great Yarmouth's CCTV technology has been completed, giving sharper footage for prosecutions and allowing police near-live updates about crimes.

The three-year project has seen public surveillance technology that covers the town centre, sea front and as far west as the Pasteur Road retail park upgraded to the tune of nearly a quarter of a million pounds.

Funded by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the £237,000 of investment has led to an overhaul in the recording software and improvements to the 60-camera operation, which can now read a licence plate from 200 yards.

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman works with not-for-profit organisation Community Safety and the borough council to run the CCTV centre, which is based in the Market Gates Shopping Centre.

He said: “It's all about giving police testifying in court the best possible evidence, and this upgrade represents a massive improvement on what we had.

“Before, our footage was grainier, and was all recorded on VHS which couldn't be reviewed until the tape was finished. Now, we have technology which can review footage instantly.”

Mr Newman added that the payment for the work would be spread over five years, and that for some of the cameras, which had been in action for seven years, the move would reduce long term maintenance costs.

It also means the higher-quality footage, viewed by those working at the CCTV and relayed directly to police in Wymondham, is now stored on a huge hard drive.

The footage is then destroyed after 28 days, unless chosen specificially to be used for evidence.

The step was praised by police, who said they “strongly supported” it to help fight crime in the area.

Sgt Tony Blackman, from the South Yarmouth Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “The improvements made in the CCTV system in recent years means areas, particularly the town centre, benefit from comprehensive coverage.

“The provision of CCTV not only helps deter crime and allow us to detect offences, it offers reassurance to people living, working and visiting Great Yarmouth.”

Such technology allows police and operators of the cameras, which can move 360 degrees, to rewind back over recent footage, allowing them to give more accurate information to those at the scene of an incident.

John Pond, who oversees the CCTV operation in Great Yarmouth, emphasised that CCTVs are not just used for crimes, but also for tracking down missing persons and traffic surveillance. “We have broadcast quality film, the best. It's not the kind of grainy footage you see on things like Crime Watch” he added.

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