'Mistakes made' over Birmingham surveillance cameras

Chief Constable Chris Sims

Mr Sims apologised last month

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West Midlands Police Authority has admitted mistakes were made in the way 200 surveillance cameras were put up in largely Muslim areas of Birmingham.

The cameras, some of which were hidden, were paid for with £3m of government money earmarked for tackling terrorism.

But the force had to apologise and later commissioned an independent review after angry residents said they had not been consulted.

The report said it put relations with the Muslim community back 10 years.

The scheme, called Project Champion, involved cameras being put up by the Safer Birmingham Project (SBP), made up of the city council, police and agencies in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook districts.

Start Quote

"We acknowledge that we did not get things right and want to take a positive approach to addressing what the report has found”

End Quote Derek Webley West Midlands Police Authority

Last month West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims apologised after the report by Thames Valley Police said the force showed "little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework" before the cameras were put up.

And in a statement, Derek Webley, chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority, said: "The authority accepts the findings and recommendations of the report by Chief Constable Sara Thornton of Thames Valley Police.

"We acknowledge that we did not get things right and want to take a positive approach to addressing what the report has found.

"Now, we have the recommendations from the report, we want to move forward in several areas: How we work, how we hold the force to account, how we scrutinise, how we question and how we challenge.

'Rebuild trust'

"The authority wants to work with the community to take this matter forward to a position where we are able to rebuild the trust and confidence of those in the area.

"Without this we know that we cannot deliver the policing that the public want to keep them safe from harm."

Civil liberties groups have threatened legal action if the force does not agree to remove all the cameras in the next two weeks.

All covert cameras have been removed and the remainder have been covered with bags.

The authority, an independent body made up of nine councillors and eight independent members including one lay justice member, is holding a public meeting in Birmingham later to discuss the report in full.

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