Traders in Keswick will be encouraged to install their own CCTV if they want to increase the chances of catching shoplifters after the town council decided it could not afford to install public cameras.

Councillors last night discussed the possibility of funding cameras in the town centre, as Cumbria police do not have any in the town.

But, after hearing from Joe Broomfield, Allerdale council's town centre manager, that installing three cameras would cost £47,000 plus running costs, they decided not to pursue the project.

The discussion came as police revealed the number of police incidents in the town and surrounding area since last month's council meeting was down more than 50 per cent on the same time the previous year.

Councillor Paul Titley said: "Frankly, there's more crime in Noddy annuals than there is in Keswick. I think it's a complete waste of money. We should bin it immediately. It's £50,000 to solve a problem we haven't got and probably never had."

Coun Andrew Lysser added: "This was really instigated by incidents that are happening in shops rather than on the street. Perhaps it's a good opportunity to go back to the shopkeepers and say there's really no alternative to you putting CCTV in your own shops."

Mr Broomfield said Cumbria police had a network of 53 CCTV cameras, none of which were in either town, but were willing to monitor additional cameras funded by other sources.

Such cameras would have to be of a high-enough standard for their footage to be admissible in court, he added.

Mr Broomfield said the best option to install cameras would be to have three, all within site of each other, which would be connected by WiFi.

The meeting heard that 14 crimes and one antisocial behaviour incident were reported to police since the January council meeting, compared to 32 incidents in the same period last year. They included a damaged window in Station Street on January 8, a £600 jacket stolen from a town centre shop on January 25, and theft of a bottle of wine from Booths on January 31.