INVERCLYDE'S network of crime-fighting CCTV cameras has been failing to properly record and retain footage for months, the Telegraph can reveal.

Technical problems have been plaguing the system since late last year and this has caused an 'exorbitant' amount of police time to be wasted, the district's top officer has declared.

Chief Superintendent Gordon McCreadie has highlighted the issue in a letter to Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe amid unease that the cash-strapped local authority is considering axing the cameras and community warden service to help plug a multi-million pound funding gap in its budget.

It is understood that the equipment has been unable to keep recordings for more than 24 hours - sparking concern that certain incidents may have gone undetected.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph can also reveal that a mobile CCTV camera van operated by Inverclyde Council is out of commission after being vandalised - with the cost of repair currently unknown.

READ MORE: Inverclyde police chief writes to council leader about cuts

Ch Supt McCreadie states in his letter to Councillor McCabe that the recent recording issue demonstrates how ‘detrimental’ the loss of CCTV is to detecting and dealing with crime.

Greenock Telegraph: Inverclyde’s top police officer makes 'unprecedented' intervention over bleak proposals to slash

He cited an example of a recent incident which saw officers spend a great deal of time investigating a report of a street robbery which turned out to be false.

Ch Supt McCreadie stated that detectives spent ‘many days’ last month investigating the report, which was made five days after the alleged crime, and said the process could have been ‘more expeditiously’ enquired into had there been normal CCTV capability.

He further highlighted that if the crime had turned out to be serious it would have proven ‘difficult if not impossible’ to identify the offenders in the absence of CCTV.

The recent recording problem is not the first time the area's camera network has been affected by glitches.

Last year the Telegraph reported that the vital tool had been taken offline for more than two weeks due to an 'upgrade' glitch. 

Greenock Telegraph: CCTV

Inverclyde Council has attributed to the problems to issues with its third-party supplier and stated that Municipal Buildings bosses are currently in the process of moving to a new supplier.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “We take public protection very seriously which is precisely why it is the council that provides CCTV and a Community Warden service to support the work of our police colleagues, as well as other emergency services.

“However, like councils across the country and indeed our colleagues at the police, we are facing severe financial challenges over the next two years with our own funding gap estimated at £2 million during the 2024/26 period.

“That means we are faced with extremely difficult choices in order to fulfil our legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget and protect frontline services so we are having to look at savings right across the organisation which could result in the loss of some services completely or major reductions.

“CCTV provision and community wardens are among those budget savings proposals, although it is important to highlight at this stage that no final decisions have yet been made.

“A public consultation is currently taking place to get the views of our residents about what services matter most to them and also for feedback on the various savings proposals as well as options to increase council tax that could potentially offset some of the savings.

“The consultation is open to everyone and we welcome all feedback and would like to take this opportunity to encourage others to take part in the consultation by completing a short survey, which is available via the ‘Your Say’ page of the council website and also through the council’s social media channels.

“Due to issues with our third-party supplier, there have been problems with the CCTV system but we are currently in the process of moving to a new supplier which should resolve the matter.

“For operational and security reasons it would be inappropriate to go into further detail.”