THE new high-definition CCTV caught every look on the man's face before the police arrived.

Cameras operators saw him kick a shop door in Poole Road, Bournemouth, at 1.20am last Thursday.

He got as far as the Frizzell Roundabout before being arrested on suspicion on attempted burglary.

It was one of the latest success for state-of-the art CCTV gradually being installed at Police HQ in Madeira Road.

Bournemouth was the first town in the country to get CCTV but years of under-investment are only just being put right.

In 1985 the town had 55 black and white cameras, recording on to VHS tapes.

It took 28 minutes for the camera operator to cycle through the live images.

The new programme, which is half-completed, will see 137 hi-definition cameras monitoring the town centre, seafront, and Boscombe, where one of their jobs is to protect the girls of the red-light district.

They are also being considered for schools, hospitals, and the university.

Each camera's footage is stored for 31 days at eight frames per second - which requires the memory storage space of 90,000 home computers.

It does not come cheap - the second phase of 24 seafront cameras and equipment upgrades has cost the council £1.5m.

The police do not pay for the cameras but work closely with the council.

Martyn Webster, who is the police's CCTV manager, said: "We show people in custody the tape in the morning and in some cases they are horrified by their behaviour.

"They are sometimes so drunk they can't even remember what they did or being arrested."

The centre provided the images that led to last week's arrest of a man in connection with two high profile assaults in Springbourne.

Cllr Dave Smith, cabinet member for communities, said the law is being changed so the cameras can also be used to prosecute people parked illegally.

The new cameras are placed so high and small they are hard to spot. The old ones were occasionally hit with house bricks, and on one occasion shot with a gun.

The camera's windscreen wipers also need to clear away the odd deposit from resting gannets.

Operators John and Martin said their work is interesting and rewarding. John reckoned 80 per cent of the offenders they see on camera are caught.

Martin said the images had "certainly put me off going into the town at night".

And despite sitting in front of 17 small monitors and two large ones every day, he laughed and admitted he still watched TV when he got home.

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