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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Microphones catch out noisy bars
CCTV cameras
The devices would be integrated into CCTV boxes
The streets of Soho may soon have ears as well as eyes as a pilot scheme gets under way to install microphones alongside CCTV cameras.

The wireless devices fitted to lampposts would allow Westminster Council to monitor noise remotely.

It would mean inspectors can check complaints about noisy bars, clubs and even neighbours, rather than visit the scene, which can take up to 40 minutes.

The scheme is running in Soho Square and will be expanded if successful.

Real time

The devices would be integrated into CCTV boxes as part of the council's Wireless City project.

Steve Harrison, assistant director of community protection at the council, said: "By the time someone rings us up to tell us about a noise problem and we have decided whether to visit, that event could be lost to us.

"This is about trying to instantly capture an image and audio that goes with it to let us know what's going on.

"Then we can almost in real time make that assessment of whether to go out.

"We can also use it intelligently so that we could be at the source of the noise next weekend."

If successful the scheme will be rolled out to Lisson Green and Churchill Gardens estate, in Soho, central London.

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