CHEPSTOW is in "desperate need of new CCTV cameras," the town's police chief has warned after he claimed that the problems with the current system were affecting local policing.

In an impassioned plea, Inspector Jim Walker told town councillors: "We're in desperate need of new CCTV in the town. With all the cuts to public services you are unlikely to see any extra officers in the next few years so we need the CCTV provision more than ever.

"I can't tell you how frustrating it is for me and my officers to attend an incident to find a glitch on the camera or a camera not working can lose us vital evidence.

"I also want the public and my officers to be safe."

More than £8,000 is needed to replace the ailing system with new more efficient dome cameras.

But the inspector was told by the town council chair of finance, Cllr Phylip Hobson, that the council had not budgeted for the replacements and wanted more assurances about how long the new cameras would last.

Cllr Ned Heywood questioned whether there was evidence to suggest the dome cameras had increased conviction rates and Cllr Hilary Beech questioned how successful they could be at night following MCC's decision to dim street lighting.

She said: "You say they work from ambient light but with MCC dimming all the streetlights won't that affect clarity?"

Andrew Mason, Monmouthshire county council's project officer for anti-social behaviour reiterated the inspector's claims. He told councillors the existing CCTV cameras, bought by the town council in 2003, were beginning to fail and needed to be replaced.

He said new dome cameras had become the preferred provision for many public authorities and that Abergavenny and Caldicot town councils had already opted into the system.

He added the existing 'shoebox' cameras were outdated and the dome cameras were superior in quality and could not be detected unlike the shoebox style.

Mr Mason said although he didn't have exact figures on conviction rate increases, the superior clarity was improving police investigations.