By Chie Elliott and Rebecca Evans

CCTV cameras in Sussex are being hampered by street lights, The Argus can reveal.

Glare from lamps is causing such poor picture quality that individuals filmed committing a crime cannot be identified.

Despite admitting that street lighting can have a negative effect on crucial footage, police officers insist CCTV is still an "effective tool."

MPs have now written to the force demanding an explanation.

The glitch came to light after three yobs filmed vandalising a shop could not be identified because of "glare" from street lamps.

The vandals caused more than £1,000 damage to Balloonatics, in High Street, Newhaven, on December 21.

Although the yobs were recorded smashing the shop window by a camera opposite, Sussex Police were unable to identify them.

Owner Stephen Berry, 52, said: “The council has been paying for years for these cameras, and when it actually comes to any use, they prove to be of no use whatsoever.

“The picture quality was not up to the job. The high-street lights were blurring the image.

“At the end of the day you would like to see the vandals brought to book over this issue - to at least be prosecuted. It is very frustrating.”

Sussex Police monitor about 400 council-owned CCTV cameras in the county from digital monitoring centres in Brighton and Haywards Heath.

The news has led to fears that serious crimes across the county will not be recorded because of the same lighting issue.

Chief Inspector Roger Fox, Sussex Police CCTV manager, said: “There are many factors that can impact on the effectiveness of CCTV and the proximity of street lighting can be both a positive and negative feature.

“The cameras on our Sussex Streets belong to the local councils, and therefore, their placement and that of the street lights are, ultimately, a local authority matter. However, we do work in close partnership with our colleagues in councils to try and ensure that the cameras are placed in the most appropriate locations. Their locations are subject of review.

“CCTV in Sussex is an effective tool for tackling crime and anti social behaviour.”

In Sussex last year 23,000 incidents were recorded on CCTV, with more than 600 offenders being detained directly as a result of CCTV use, with a further 1,400 arrests being monitored.