CRIMINALS in Devizes are being warned that they are being watched around the clock by new high-tech CCTV cameras that give high definition colour pictures.

CCTV manager Noel Woolrych said: "It has made a huge difference. The new system is a different world to the old one and it means that we can identify people much more easily and do even more than before to help the police find culprits."

The £12,500 project has been financed by the Devizes Development Partnership, Devizes Town Council, Devizes Area Board and contributions from businesses in the town.

Mr Woolrych said: "We have just completed a major overhaul of the system which was over ten years old. The new system has the latest digital recorder with a number of 360 high definition cameras with night vision capability.

"These cover the Market Place, The Brittox and Sainsbury’s from Wadworth roundabout to Roses roundabout. The system has contributed to the falling street crime and anti-social behaviour in contrast to rising crime in areas of the country where funding for CCTV has been withdrawn.

"Regular financial contributions from local business and help from volunteers to operate the control room are vital to the success the system which has made our town a safer place to live and work."

He said that at the moment fewer than 20 businesses contribute £10 a month but Mr Woolrych said that if more were prepared to join in even more cameras could be put up and the town would become even safer.

The cameras work all day and night sending pictures back to new computer screens in the CCTV headquarters at the Crown Centre.

Mr Woolrych monitors the cameras and police also contact him if a crime has been reported so he can check the film.

He said: "It becomes a bit of an obsession for me. The new cameras and screen make it much easier to track people but it can take a long time.

"It is not like in crime dramas on the TV where they seem to get results immediately."

In recent weeks Mr Woolrych was able to pass on clear CCTV footage of vandals who caused about £1,500 of damage to lights on the Market Place Christmas tree and also of a woman wanted in connection with a series of purse snatches.

He said: "The woman was wearing quite distinctive boots and so I was able to use those to pinpoint her in pictures as she moved around the town.

"We were able to get a very clear picture which police then publicised."

Mr Woolrych is also in radio link with both the police control room and individual officers on duty and so if he is watching the screens and spots anything suspicious he can report it straight away and then help direct police to right place.

The Devizes Development Partnership annual meeting is in the town hall on February 4 at 6pm.