Citizen spies will be given the chance to win up to £1,000 by watching CCTV cameras on the internet and reporting people they suspect of committing crimes.
The new scheme, called Internet Eyes, involves web users scouring CCTV cameras installed in shops, businesses and town centres across Britain looking for offenders.
The cameras’ owners will be charged a fee for putting live footage from their cameras online, while members of the public who help catch criminals can win cash prizes.
The project will be trialled in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks, next month, but the consortium behind the idea hopes that it will eventually attract a global audience of viewers monitoring Britain’s 4.2 million security cameras.
However, it has already provoked criticism from civil liberties campaigners, who claim that it will create a “snoopers paradise” and erode people’s privacy.
Internet Eyes is being promoted as a game in which players collect points by watching the cameras and clicking a button every time they see something suspicious.
An SMS or text message, along with a still image of the alleged crime, is sent to whoever controls the camera who then decides whether or not to take action.