SURVEILLANCE cameras are set to be drafted into town centre troublespots.

CCTV equipment will be temporarily installed in streets blighted by arson, theft and graffiti as part of a major overhaul of central Swindon’s CCTV network.

Five wall-mounted “overt” cameras and several hidden recording devices will be in place by March 2010.

Swindon Community Safety Partnership also aims to have a central hub controlling 40 town centre cameras in place by that date.

CCTV in the town centre is currently controlled by several different organisations, including Stagecoach bus company, the Brunel Centre, InSwindon, Swindon Council and Wiltshire Police.

Richard Palusinski, the head of community safety for the partnership, said: “The new system won’t be a case of Big Brother watching you – it is to tackle issues of crime and disorder in the town while making residents and shoppers feel safe.

“It’s a sensitive subject as there are people who feel that CCTV is intrusive, so it is getting the balance right so surveillance is effective against crime without intruding on law-abiding visitors to the town centre.”

The partnership is in talks about potential hotspots to be covered by cameras.

He said: “These area may be parts of the town that are heavily affected by violent crime, graffiti or purse dippings and aren’t covered by sufficient surveillance.

“It may be that Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have had a spate of fires started in a particular area and CCTV may be a solution to further incidents.”

Surveillance controllers are now in talks about who will be responsible for the central control facility.

Mr Palusinski said: “The amount of money that will be spent on updating the network will be far outweighed by the savings that will be made by having one central control room instead of having to communicate with several different agencies.

“It may be that Government funding means the project will be cost neutral to Swindon.

“If all goes to plan I hope the project will be complete by the end of this financial year in March 2010.”

The group can also install secret cameras in areas blighted by violent crime.

The five overt’ cameras can be bolted on to a building to cover the area for whatever time is thought necessary while an undisclosed number of hidden cameras can be used if there is a serious threat to life or well-being, he said.

For security reasons the location of the CCTV control room will be kept secret.