Surveillance cameras installed to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham are “a grave infringement of civil liberties” and should not be turned on until residents are consulted, an MP has warned.
Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) condemned the cameras in a House of Commons motion as he demanded Government intervention to ensure they would remained unused.
West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council announced they would review the decision to use the cameras - but said they were still convinced they would cut crime.
Around 150 cameras have been installed in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in an apparent attempt to monitor extremists that police and MI5 believe are living among the city’s Muslim community.
They include automatic number plate reading technology, making it easier for police to monitor the movements of vehicles, and 40 of them are classed “covert”, and are thought to be concealed in walls and trees by the side of the road.
The cameras were installed by a body called the Safer Birmingham Partnership, which includes West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council, but funding has reportedly come from the Terrorism and Allied Matters, a fund administered by the Association of Chief Police Officers to fight terrorism.
Mr Godsiff said the cameras had been requested by West Midlands police counterterrorism unit more than two years ago.
He has previously complained that neither he nor local residents or MPs were consulted about the scheme, called Project Champion.
And he has now laid down an official Commons motion insisting that the cameras must not be activated until the community has been consulted.
The motion states: “Birmingham is the only example, to date, where this technology has been employed to monitor a community . . . this initiative constitutes a grave infringement of civil liberties.”
Liberal Democtrat MP John Hemming also vowed to raise the issue with party leader Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Hemming said: “It is hard to see what these cameras will achieve apart from tacking where law-abiding people are going.”
A spokesman for the Safer Birmingham Partnership said: “We are aware that some community members have expressed concern about the recent introduction of automatic number plate reading and CCTV cameras in various wards.
“West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council understand the range of issues together with the reasons they have been raised, and will be meeting to review these matters.
“We are confident of the benefits that Project Champion can bring to the city and the positive impact it will have on crime reduction and reassuring our communities.”