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West Midlands Police admit ‘Spy Cameras’ defeat

A NETWORK of ‘spy camera’s’ put up in predominantly Muslim areas in Birmingham are to be removed.

West Midlands Police Authority, Chief Constable Chris Sims said the removal of the camera network was the only way to “move forward” and “rebuild vital community support.”

The force had already apologised for the way it went about planning and putting up more than 200 covert and overt cameras as part of its Project Champion scheme in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook areas of the city after an independent report said they failed to question the scheme’s “proportionality, legitimacy, authority and necessity.”

Critics said the cameras, some of which are hidden, were being used to spy on the Muslim community after it emerged the initiative was financed through a counter-terrorism fund.

Following the independent report Chief Constable Sims said none of the cameras had been used and that all covert cameras had been removed as a result of the report.

But after human rights group Liberty threatened the force with legal action if they did not remove the remaining cameras, the force caved in.

“I believe that the support and the confidence of local communities in West Midlands Police is the most important thing for us in the fight against crime and terrorism,” said Mr Sims.

“We can fight crime and the threat posed by terrorism far more effectively by working hand in hand with local people, rather than alienating them through a technological solution which does not have broad community support.”

Salma Yaqoob, councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook, said the development was “a victory for people power.”

“After months of campaigning, common sense has finally won the day. Campaigners can take comfort that all our hard work has not been in vain. This is a victory for people power, and it is of national significance.,” she said.

“If the police had got away with rolling out Project Champion in Birmingham, other areas would soon have followed. And if that had happened, I have no doubt there would have been miscarriages of justice.”

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