South Dorset will be made safer thanks to a new CCTV centre in Dorchester.

The new centre at County Hall has access to around 140 cameras which are in place around Bridport, Weymouth and Dorchester.

It includes a state-of-the-art control room and aims to prevent, detect and reduce crime.

The new centre cost a total of £375,000 and has been funded by Dorset Council, Dorset Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones said: “It’s an impressive facility with better technology that will improve public safety. It’s a good example of public services pulling together efficiently to deliver improvements.”

Meanwhile, Superintendent Caroline Naughton of Dorset Police, said: “This is a fantastic example of all partners involved in community safety coming together to develop a

CCTV system that is fit for purpose and meets all of our needs. CCTV systems are vital for the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime and I am pleased that Dorset is now at the forefront of using the latest technology.”

The new control room includes upgraded technology, new digital radio systems, touchscreen control panels, interactive mapping and

better facilities for reviewing footage.

The digital radio system in the control room can link to council staff on patrol including parking officers, Weymouth Town Council beach staff and uniformed patrol officers who tackle anti-social behaviour under the Community Accreditation Scheme. It will also be linked to Shop Watch, Pub Watch and Taxi Watch schemes. This means shopkeepers, pub owners and taxi drivers can

contact the CCTV control room directly.

The control room is connected directly to police so they can be contacted about any crime that is spotted using the cameras, so incidents can be stopped and dealt with before they even happen.

Footage which is recorded by the cameras can be kept for up to 31 days, so it can be reviewed by police if necessary.

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This represents a crucial modernisation of Dorset’s CCTV infrastructure and I am confident this important investment will enable agencies including the police and council to work more closely together to help keep people across the county safe.”

Former police inspector, Cllr Les Fry said: “This will make a big difference to crime, its prevention and detection. Criminals don’t like CCTV because it catches them in the act.”

The cameras also help to monitor traffic, dealing with any problems and supporting safe travel across the network.

The operation of the CCTV centre is carefully managed and governed by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner in compliance with their strict codes.

It is hoped that the centre will expand to other areas of Dorset in the future.

Other parts of Dorset have CCTV systems, but these are operated privately or by town councils.