Buried in the heart of Lisburn Police Station are rows of television screens watching everyone on the main streets of Lisburn, Dunmurry, Hillsborough and Moira.
But rather than being an Orwellian nightmare, these screens, and the cameras attached to them, are making Lisburn a safer place to shop, work and live.
The CCTV operators are responsible for facilitating 263 arrests this year and are particularly effective at preventing and detecting crime relating to drugs and thefts from local stores.
As part of the crime fighting family in Lisburn, the CCTV operators work in partnership with the police, fire and rescue workers, ambulance crews and local businesses to drive down crime in the city.
Run by Lisburn Commerce Against Crime, which is part funded by Lisburn City Council, the cameras are monitored day and night and are valuable resources when it comes to prosecuting criminals.
“The cameras are monitored seven days a week and cover the main areas of Lisburn,” explained CCTV Supervisor Ryan.
“Sometimes it can be quiet but we definitely see an increase in activity in the run up to Christmas, especially incidents of shoplifting and drunken anti-social behaviour when people are out for their Christmas parties.”
The camera operators have to use their years of experience and judgement to make a quick decision whether or not someone is acting suspiciously enough to warrant a visit from the police. This can at times be challenging but it is vital that the operators make the right call.
“We have to make quick judgement calls on wither something is suspicious,” continued Ryan. “We are very proactive rather than reactive. We are always looking for trouble rather than waiting for it to happen.
“People often don’t understand what we do or appreciate the amount of work that can go into it.
“We can be looking for people for two or three months but we don’t give up.
“The footage from the cameras is very good evidence in court. It is very difficult to dispute.”
Ryan is certain that if the cameras were switched off, crime would soar in Lisburn and he hopes that members of the public appreciate the vital service.
“The service is vital for the city and we want to let people know about the good work that is going on behind the scenes,” he added.