Crime: Straight from Narnia - the lamps that spy

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The Independent Online
Not even the fertile mind of CS Lewis could have dreamed up the bizarre plot being written for his favourite gas lamps. The lamps at Malvern, Hereford and Worcester, which gave the writer the idea of putting a lamppost in a forest for his tales of Narnia, are to be equipped with security close circuit television cameras.

Malvern Hills district council, with Whitehall assistance, is spending pounds 120,000 on installing the cameras on about half the 100 lamps, which draw visitors from all over the country. Local traders can buy a sensor which will make the camera in their nearest lamppost zoom in on their shop front when movement is detected.

"CS Lewis would have loved the storyline of `The ever-watchful lampposts keeping guard against wrongdoers," the council's spokesman, Alec Mackie, said yesterday. "We decided to hide the new security system like this so there would not be cameras on street corners to spoil the town centre."

It will cost pounds 50,000 a year to run the system, which will come into operation just before Christmas. The central control room will be monitored during peak risk hours such as pub closing time, but videos will be recorded 24 hours a day.

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