IN THESE often troubled times, when we worry about our safety and the safety of our family, it can be very reassuring to know that CCTV is watching over us.

How many times have you parked your vehicle in a dark, shadowy car park and after fretting that it might not be there when you return, have felt more at ease when you note the cameras are there and somewhere your car is being monitored on a screen and the images recorded?

And we know that many criminal acts are now recorded by CCTV, with thousands of convictions eventually resulting form the footage which has been captured.

There is of course a case to be made that the all-seeing eye can be seen as invading our lives and our privacy on a daily basis.

A recent survey concluded that the average Londoner is caught on CCTV around 300 times a day, and though the figure is not as high in more rural regions such as South Lakeland, they can still be seen as very intrusive.

There are other, more practical issues involved with the technology.

Many images produced by surveillance cameras can be grainy and unclear, lessening their effectiveness, which more often than not is the result of poor maintenance.

Prompt action when incidents are caught on camera is also a factor.

Here at the Westmorland Gazette, we often use footage of incidents caught on camera in the form of appeals for information.

However, delays in receiving clips or images can reduce the effectiveness of such appeals.

For instance, this very week, we received a clip from the Cumbria police of a theft which took place back on Christmas Day.

A swift response would have been more helpful, as people’s memories can fade quickly.

So it’s clear CCTV is very much a mixed blessing.

While it can be a force for good, the feeling of being constantly watched can be unnerving, though many would argue if you are doing nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to worry about.

But whatever your view, surveillance cameras are here to stay.

So get used to them, and if you operate one, use it wisely, ethically, and ensure it is properly maintained and monitored, or you could be wasting everyone’s time.