CCTV cameras will be used in a blitz on graffiti vandals after an increase in the number of incidents in the city centre in recent weeks.

City of York Council is hoping the move will help police to catch vandals in the act in Spurriergate and Coney Street.

Liz Levett, the city council's street environment manager, said: "There's been an increase in graffiti incidents in and around the Spurriergate and Coney Street areas in recent weeks. It appears that most of the incidents occur late night or extremely early in the morning.

"It is both time-consuming and expensive to keep cleaning the area up, so the CCTV operators have agreed to keep a particular eye out for any graffiti vandals in this area and, if anything is spotted, to obtain as much evidence as possible so we can take the necessary action against the culprits.

"The operators will also be contacting the police in an effort to catch the graffiti vandals in the act."

The measure is part of the council's month-long blitz of areas blighted by graffiti, which was reported in The Press on December 30.

Graffiti has already been cleared from other areas of the city, including Marygate Tunnel, Clifton Primary School and walls in Kingsway North, as revealed in The Press earlier in December.

A camera has also been used in York to combat other "environmental offences" - fly tippers, vandals and residents who put bin bags out too early.

Environment chiefs introduced a state-of-the-art spy camera as a back-up to surveillance by council staff.

But, as reported in The Press on December 11, a councillor questioned the move.

Coun Ruth Potter, City of York Council Labour Group spokesperson for neighbourhood services, told The Press last month: "This camera cost £10,000 and yet it has hardly ever been used. It appears that it's only been in action on four occasions meaning that, even if all the people caught were successfully prosecuted or fined, it would cost around £2,500 a time.

"If they (the Liberal Democrats) really feel that they want to spend taxpayers' money on cameras to spy on them, they should at least go to the effort of actually putting it into use."

But Coun Andrew Waller, executive member for neighbourhood services, replied the camera was effective.

He told The Press each of the four occasions had seen the camera deployed for several days at a time.