'Talking' CCTV cameras that shout warnings to litter louts and those engaged in anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 trouble hotspots across England following a successful trial in Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough has been using the talking CCTV cameras since last summer and has declared the project a success in cleaning the streets of litter and tackling anti-social behaviour in trouble hotspots around the town centre.
Speakers on the cameras allow the operators to broadcast warnings when they spot people dropping litter or committing public order offences, such as drunkenness or fighting.
Home Secretary John Reid has now announced £500,000 of funding from the government's Respect taskforce to extend the talking CCTV cameras in trouble hotspots in 20 towns and cities.
Reid said in a statement: "Talking CCTV is another tool in creating safer communities. It uses modern technology to allow camera operators to speak directly to people on the streets to stop or prevent them acting anti-socially. We know from Middlesbrough's experience that this works."
Some of the areas the CCTV scheme will be extended to are Blackpool, Coventry, Derby, Gloucester, Mansfield, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Salford and Wirral.
Graeme Gerrard, chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers CCTV working group and deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police, said in a statement: "Talking CCTV increases the effectiveness of town centre cameras because it allows the camera operators to intervene and let the offender know their anti-social behaviour has been spotted and is being recorded. In many cases this is enough to stop the offending behaviour which in turn results in safer and tidier streets."
The government is also running competitions in schools in the 20 new areas for schoolchildren to become the voice of the talking CCTV in their town or city for one day when the new cameras go live later this year.