Miniature digital still cameras are being used to monitor troublespots and gather evidence of criminal and antisocial behaviour on council estates in Camden, north London.

Smaller, cheaper and easier to install than a traditional CCTV camera the devices ? each tinier than a dial on a small wristwatch ? are being hidden inside everyday items such as flower pots, household pipes and fake electricity junction boxes (pictured).

?They can?t necessarily stop crime but they can gather evidence where it would otherwise be impossible,? said Camden council spokesman Matt Cornish. ?Photographic evidence is pretty hard for anyone to argue against,? he added.

The cameras ? which feature different resolution sensors and deliver colour images – cost less than £100.

One of the cameras? key advantages is their lack of wiring and ability to be quickly and easily moved to a new location if trouble flares up elsewhere in the borough, explained Cornish.

Pictures from the cameras ? some of which are motion sensitive and battery operated ? are stored on a hard drive for later review by officials who are on the look out for incidents such as drug use and vandalism on council estates.

They also have the potential to be used near Wi-Fi hotspots, to deliver images wirelessly to security officials via the internet.

So far Camden council has launched eight such cameras as part of a £250,000 scheme to improve security. But if the pilot scheme proves a success more cameras will be deployed.

Camden Council also plans to use them to spy on council-run areas that are accessible to the general public, such as near sports centre toilet facilities.