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800 criminals captured by Fife CCTV in a record year

The operators of one of Europe's largest CCTV networks say they have achieved a record year with almost 800 people detained after being caught on film.

The operators of one of Europe's largest CCTV networks say they have achieved a record year with almost 800 people detained after being caught on film.

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The team responsible for Fife's camera system said they had captured around 1600 incidents on film, the highest number since it was launched in 2002, and described the figure as "very healthy".

Details of the scheme come as the Scottish Government finalises its strategic review of public-space CCTV in Scotland, which it intends to use to clarify the specific role of the technology.

The Government, which earlier this month provided funding of £660,000 to be divided between all 32 local authorities for community safety initiatives including enhanced CCTV, late-night taxi marshalls and high visibility police patrols in hot spot' areas, said the report will also cover strategic issues on CCTV's purpose and use, and consider existing evidence on the impact of public space CCTV.

Fife's CCTV network system is the largest single-fibre network in Europe and covers 12 towns.

Mark Waterfall, CCTV co-ordinator at Fife Constabulary, said the cameras have become a vital tool in helping officers detect crime and deter criminals.

More than 1500 recorded incidents were reviewed during 2008, he said, turning up 637 pieces of evidence, a success rate of 42%.

In addition, some 458 discs were compiled for court hearings, while the images collected ranged from "the downright funny to the downright sick", according to Mr Waterfall.

One image showed a peacock seemingly window shopping at a Dunfermline store called Peacocks, while on several other occasions cameras were used to track missing individuals, including an 86-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer who was found in Burntisland, about 10 miles away from his home.

He said: "The operators have actually recorded 1598 incidents, which is our highest ever number.

"You would expect after seven years that that figure might decrease, but the opposite is true, it's climbing year on year. The number of people filmed on camera and then detained is 763.

He added: "We've got those cameras in all the towns and we are looking out for people.

"If you're going to commit crime under the camera footprint, there's every likelihood that you're going to be caught."

Festive revellers on one of Scotland's busiest thoroughfares are also being greeted by a New Year's addition - the area's first fixed CCTV camera.

Despite more than 400 sites in Glasgow being covered by CCTV, the Byres Road area is one of very few without the technology, despite the high volume of licensed premises in the vicinity. Shawlands, another area with high numbers of pubs and clubs, is also without CCTV coverage.

The new £30,000 CCTV system on Byres Road covers the entire length of the street but will focus mainly on the area around Hillhead subway station, Ashton Lane and its neighbouring taxi rank. Byres Road had previously been monitored by a number of mobile units.

Glasgow Community and Safety Services, which brings together the police, local authority and CCTV company Streetwatch, will install the camera.

A GCSS spokeswoman said: "The Byres Road CCTV camera will focus mainly on the taxi rank and sends images back to the control room in Blochairn.

"We also have cameras along Dumbarton Road but this is the first permanent one on Byres Road."

Stephen McBride, chairman of the local Pubwatch scheme, added: "There's always a hotspot outside the taxi rank, so anything we can do to make the area safer we would encourage."

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