POLICE chiefs are set to make a top-level plea for Inverclyde's crime-fighting CCTV network to be spared the axe in the latest round of council cuts.

Local authority officials have drawn up a raft of proposed savings measures in a bid to slice a further £2 million off of council spending.

But senior Police Scotland officers want to have their say in order to ensure that the camera system is retained for 'community safety'.

The matter was raised at a meeting of the Local Police and Fire Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Jim McEleny asked if police officers had been given the opportunity to comment on the proposed cut as part of the budget consultation process.

Superintendent Donald Leitch responded: "We would welcome the opportunity to comment, I think that's really important.

"There are a whole load of examples on a daily basis [of the benefits of CCTV].

"We would like to see what the proposed cuts look like and be allowed to make comment."

Councillors are to set the district's budget on March 12 amid claims that the latest Scottish Government financial settlement will leave the local authority millions of pounds out of pocket.

Union bosses said last month that the council can set a balanced budget without cutting jobs and services.

A new £200,000 network of CCTV cameras went live across Inverclyde last October.

It features state of the art 4G technology,with images from the cameras being stored in a data cloud, and also boasts mobile cameras.

The system has 40 fixed cameras and four mobile ones.

The new cameras have motion sensors so that they only record when movement is detected, meaning that when council staff and police officers are reviewing an incident, they don’t have to watch hours of unnecessary footage.

Area police commander, Chief Inspector Debbie Reilly told the scrutiny committee: "Police Scotland is not the principal beneficiary, the public is, and there is a community safety issue.

"I also think that, apart from the CCTV system itself, it's really important to note the standard of the CCTV operators.

"They are absolutely first class — their local knowledge, the perceptions of the mannerisms and habits of certain individuals too.

"So whilst the CCTV is a valuable service, a lot of the benefits are down to the individuals who operate it."

Councillor McEleny said: "I think to aid our decision making process we would welcome your informed comments."