POLICE in are calling on those with CCTV cameras to help them with their investigations.

Residents of the Longridge, Chipping and Ribchester areas who have surveillance systems are being asked to be the police’s ‘eyes’ and hand over their footage.

Residents who provide their names, addresses and contact details for the scheme will be called on when there is an incident in the area.

Police Community Support Officer Ben Higham came up with the idea of building a map or database of willing participants.

He said: “When there is an incident in the area we usually talk to people and do house-to-house enquiries and look for CCTV cameras anyway.

“But as many people might put them in less conspicuous places where we can’t necessarily see them, I thought this would make our job a lot easier and also use our time more efficiently.”

The scheme has come a month after Longridge police station’s front counter was closed because of funding cuts.

He added: “The CCTV we use is funded by the council or businesses and we as police are not going to be paying for more CCTV cameras to be installed.

“But this is nothing to do with cost-cutting.

“We would provide the discs for the footage to be put onto, they would not incur any costs and nothing taxing would be involved.

“People are usually really happy to help with enquiries and we’ve never had somebody refuse to help us with this sort of thing before, but if they did we wouldn’t seize it because it’s their personal system.

“I’m hopeful people will take part and also that it might get taken up in other areas.”

Any footage with relevant images to the case would be used as evidence if it went to court.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “This is a perfect example of CCTV being used as a substitute for policing.

“Had we not spent billions on cameras and control rooms in recent years, perhaps we would be able to afford to have police officers on the beat, something that all the evidence shows is much more effective at reducing crime than more indiscriminate surveillance.”