Birmingham & Black Country

'Spy cameras' documentary premiered in Birmingham

Street scene showing one of the cameras in Birmingham
Image caption West Midlands Police said it accepted mistakes were made in relation to Project Champion

A documentary about the removal of more than 200 "spy-cameras" in Birmingham earlier in the year had its world premiere on Wednesday.

The cameras were paid for with £3m of government funds earmarked for tackling terrorism.

But members of the community were angry with the Project Champion scheme in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook areas.

Defeat of the Champion premiered at the West Midlands Human Rights Film Festival at Birmingham Library Theatre.

Civil liberties

Coventry University media lecturer Ken Fero helped create the 25-minute-long documentary, co-directing the film with Tariq Mehmood, with a number of students also involved.

Mr Fero said the film fitted in well with the remit of the festival, which has been organised by the Birmingham International Film Society.

"The documentary has been tagged by the festival organisers as a highlight of the festival because at the time, the cameras caused a great deal of controversy in two districts of Birmingham," he said.

"The ring of steel that was placed around a largely Muslim area was cancelled after civil liberties campaigners complained.

"But there was outrage once it emerged that the project was being paid for from a national counter-terrorism grant."

An independent report was highly critical of the Project Champion scheme and West Midlands Police (WMP) over the cameras' installation, some of which were hidden.

'Deeply sorry'

Chief Constable Chris Sims, from WMP, has previously apologised.

Last September Mr Sims said: "I am sorry that we got such an important issue so wrong and deeply sorry that it has had such a negative impact on our communities.

"No cameras associated with the project have ever been used."

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