WHEN closed circuit television cameras were first installed into South Bank homes, there was no doubting the ingenuity of the idea.

But would it work?

"As the police monitor the criminals," we commented in February, "the rest of the city will be watching to see if this experiment is framing up to be a real crime buster."

The results could not have been more conclusive. Burglaries fell by three-quarters. That translated to about 40 fewer break-ins; 40 households spared the trauma of having their personal space violated and their property stolen.

Not one criminal was caught on the cameras placed inside unmarked homes. They simply stayed away.

Perhaps some York burglars kid themselves that they are part of a glamorous tradition, epitomised by the fictional cad Raffles. In truth they are petty thieves who skulk in the shadows and target only the easiest prey.

And they are cowards. When the odds of their being caught increase, they dare not take the risk.

Because York cannot post a bobby on every street corner, the burglars used to enjoy free rein. That is why CCTV makes such a difference. It extends police surveillance across a whole borough.

The South Bank residents were pioneers. They allowed their homes to be wired up to the spy network, and the gamble paid off.

Now residents in the Groves can follow suit in the knowledge that the cameras are sure to make a difference.

This success is down to a genuine crime-fighting partnership. The police, using funding from both Safer York and the Home Office, joined with city residents to play big brother. And in our version, it is the burglars who are being evicted.

Updated: 10:05 Friday, July 16, 2004