POLICE will be able to catch criminals red-handed thanks to a new remote CCTV system.

Witham Town Council has announced it has a struck a deal with Link CCTV which will allow officers to access to cameras through a smartphone.

The scheme will mean special constables will be able to check and reposition 11 cameras set up across Witham with the touch of a button.

The CCTV system has previously been operated from Witham town hall, in Newland Street, during the daytime.

But officers have had to make a journey to Chelmsford in off peak hours, meaning valuable patrol time has been lost.

Council bosses say the new system will also help to save costs.

Deputy Town Clerk Nikki Smith said: “Witham Town Council has been lending its fullest possible support to the community special constables out on patrol and understand how important remote access to our CCTV will be.

“The council and special sergeant Simon Jesse have been working together to push this item forward for the last 18 months and with the help of Link CCTV have been finally able to bring this to fruition.

“Although the special constables are often seen throughout the town on high visibility patrols this enables them to be in one area and still access real time footage from another location.”

Witham Town Council provides funding for five special constables - more than any other authority in Essex.

It has become the first council in the county to sign up to the new remote CCTV service and bosses hopes it will help to reduce crime across the town, as well as make residents feel safer.

A spokesman said: “We are proud to enable a more efficient system for our local police, which means that officers in Witham can access CCTV images while offences are taking place.

“Since their introduction in June 2018, Witham’s special constables have successfully improved police visibility in the town, working alongside Witham’s town team and helping to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour as well as forging important relationships with the community.”