A pounds 300,000 round-the-clock watch was launched yesterday to crack down on city centre crime.
A network of 16 television cameras fixed high on buildings over a wide area of Newcastle upon Tyne and linked to the city police station will keep a 24-hour look-out for law-breakers.
Superintendent Peter Durham said the cameras had 'tremendous potential - the equivalent of having an extra 16 bobbies on the beat around the clock every day of the year'.
'But they will never need a day off, meal break or sick leave and they will keep immaculate records of everything they see which can be replayed in court if necessary.'
Supt Durham added that during the 15 months it has taken to set up, he had heard only one suggestion that it might be an infringement of civil liberties.
'These aren't spy cameras at all. They are out in the open for everyone to see. If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.'
Funding came from businesses, the Department of the Environment and the Northumbria Police Authority.