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'Spy cameras' introduced under Project Champion removed from Birmingham

Residents were angry to learn that the cameras had been funded by UK government counter-terrorism fund and complained that some were hidden.

Image: jonathan mcintosh via Creative Commons

UK AUTHORITIES HAVE begun dismantling some of the controversial 218 surveillance cameras being removed from parts of Birmingham.

Following an investigation by the Guardian last year, Birmingham city council and West Midlands police said that the cameras would not be turned on and bags were placed over the cameras. The newspaper had revealed that the cameras were paid for out of a government anti-terrorism fund.

Local residents reacted angrily to the news and said they should have been more involved in the consultation process prior to the cameras’ introduction. They also complained that some of the cameras were hidden.

In December, police agreed to remove the cameras, which had been installed in largely-Muslim areas under ‘Project Champion’.

Police and the city council said in a joint statement last summer that they should have been “more explicit about the role of the counter-terrorism unit” in the initial management of the project. They said that the locations for cameras had been chosen according to general crime data and not specifically because of counter-terrorism intelligence.

Last September, an independent review of the project acknowledged that many residents felt “that their civil liberties have been disregarded” and questioned whether the terrorist threat in this region had warranted the disregarding of normal policing considerations.

The BBC reports that all 218 cameras are due to be removed this month and they may then be used by London police as part of the security measures for the 2012 Olympic Games.

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