THE county’s CCTV network is to be extended, Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner has announced.

The move follows feedback from councils, residents and police officers in recent months.

It comes after 56 surveillance cameras were installed in several main towns across the county in 2015 as part of phase one.

Now a total of 24 cameras will be installed in towns including Keswick, Wigton, Millom, Milnthorpe and Ulverston later this year for the second phase.

Police commissioner Peter McCall described the move as a ‘significant step’ in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: “I’m delighted to be working with the local councils to develop the next stage of CCTV. I often talk about ‘we, not they’ and this is clear evidence of local communities working with us for a really successful solution for our people.

“Unfortunately, I can’t put a cop on every street corner but this investment is a massive progression and will go a long way to improve people’s confidence.

“This investment comes at a time when we have increased police officer numbers by 45, as a result of increased council tax payments and are in the process of recruiting an additional 51 officers as part of the Government’s Operation Uplift initiative.

“CCTV will be a great additional resource in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour and will help to focus and target our officers on criminals and their activity.

“I would like to thank the town, parish and district councils for coming forward and partnering in this innovative approach that once again proves Cumbria is leading the way in using technology to keep us all safe.”

Assistant chief constable Andrew Slattery, Cumbria Constabulary, added: “The planned expansion of the county’s CCTV network is welcome news and is one of the many ways that we use to keep people in Cumbria safe.

“The existing suite of cameras have been in operation since 2015 and have made a real difference to policing. The cameras have assisted officers to locate vulnerable missing people, as well as identify vehicles and individuals suspected to be involved in committing crime. CCTV footage provides officers with crucial evidence and provides key investigative opportunities.

“The constabulary has worked with the Police and Crime Commissioner and local councils to identify those areas where investment in CCTV infrastructure will best serve to protect communities from crime and anti-social behaviour.

“This partnership work will enhance the existing system and is part of our drive to develop community policing, along with the recruitment of additional officers to work in neighbourhoods throughout the county.”

The mayor of Keswick, David Burn, said: “Keswick is a safe place to live but we are not immune from anti-social behaviour and crimes such as shoplifting and the occasional assault.

“Police-monitored CCTV will give added reassurance to our community and will give the police the opportunity to respond while a crime is underway.

“The town council is extremely grateful to the police and crime commissioner for the grant towards the cost of the cameras.”

The use of added CCTV has been praised by officers.

One camera spotted a male on Millennium Bridge in Carlisle, with concerns raised over his body language. Police were concerned so when he moved off the bridge, they continued to track his movements back to a vehicle and obtained a registration number.

At this point there were no reports about the male.

About ten minutes later, the police received a call that the male was suicidal and looking to kill himself.

The police used the man’s description, registration number and last location seen captured by CCTV, and a short time later he was taken into safety.