Retailers could soon benefit from the public's obsession with reality TV, when a new 'Big Brother' style security scheme which rewards people for monitoring commercial CCTV cameras from their home computers is launched next month.

The Internet Eyes website will reward viewers with cash if they spot and report shoplifting or other crimes in progress.

The scheme, which is due to go live in Stratford-upon-Avon in November, will stream CCTV footage from inside and outside shops to subscribers' homes.

If viewers see a crime in progress, they can alert the site's operator, who then decides what action to take.

Players are awarded one point for spotting a suspected crime. Those who help catch the most criminals each month can win cash prizes of up to £1,000.

Retailers in Stratford have welcomed the scheme, saying it could act as a deterrent once 'Internet Eyes patrol here' signs are displayed.

The site's founder, James Woodward, said it could lead to a dramatic fall in crime. "There are more than four million CCTV cameras across the UK but only one in a thousand gets watched. This way the cameras will be watched by lots of people."