Police are to get their third eye back in the fight against crime in Preston city centre.
Round-the-clock monitoring of CCTV cameras is set to resume, just in time for the busiest spell of the year for shoppers and revellers.
The city council has struck a deal for the screens to be manned 24 hours a day - from a central hub in Blackburn - six months after full-time observers were dispensed with under budget cuts.
And Preston’s Business Improvement District (BID), which has invested large sums in the 25-camera system to make the city centre a safer place, has welcomed a return to full-time monitoring.
“We are very mindful of safety and security and that’s why we invested heavily in CCTV,” said BID manager Mark Whittle. “It’s been an unmanned system for about six months, but very shortly it will be 24 hours a day, which is great news.”
Preston has been under the watchful eye of street CCTV for 18 years. Initially it was monitored around the clock, but in 2012 it was reduced to just 18 hours a day from Monday to Thursday and 24 hours at weekends.
Trained civilian operators in the control room at Preston Police Station scanned pictures and alerted police to anything suspicious.
A council spokesperson: “We are working in partnership with councils to form a Lancashire CCTV hub based in Blackburn. This will provide round-the-clock monitoring of Preston’s cameras and the operators will alert Preston Police to any suspicious activity or anti-social behaviour problems.
“By working together in this way we can provide an effective CCTV service. Work is well underway and we expect the new monitoring system to go live soon.”