BIG Brother is set to take a leading role in the fight against crime.
Some 51 new closed-circuit television systems will be installed and fully operational on the streets of Irish towns by the end of the year, new figures show.
Apart from the private systems already installed in businesses, dozens more are planned for towns over the coming years to act as a deterrent to street violence, late-night drunkenness and public order offences.
Local officials have said rural hamlets are queuing up to get a CCTV system. The Justice Department has confirmed that applications had been received from 179 community groups looking for funding.Apart from major towns and cities which have systems operated by gardai, community groups are being formed to state their case to have CCTV installed in their areas.
Towns including Youghal in Cork, Ballybay in Monaghan and Carlingford in Co Louth have been given funding to develop proposals, while 15 schemes have received €100,000 each to allow a system to be installed.
Other areas looking for a system include Ballaghderreen, Co Roscommon.
Donal O'Callaghan, of Ballaghderreen and Districts Development Ltd, said gardai don't have the manpower to keep an eye on late-night revellers.
"There is a concern about public order offences at night and at weekends," he said.
The Central Statistics Office are working on a new system to compile crime figures, which will be able to pinpoint on a street by street basis how many crimes have been committed in the previous 12 months.
However, the new technology won't be available until 2009 at the earliest. Only then, will it become clear if CCTV is a deterrent.