Birmingham’s community safety chief has condemned police for failing to inform the council and residents about a controversial ring of spy cameras which residents say have “stigmatised” their neighbourhood.
Councillor Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem Aston) was holding a meeting with police this week to discuss why 150 covert cameras were installed without any consultation in Kings Heath, Moseley, Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in what residents claim is an apparent attempt to monitor the city’s Muslim community.
The £3 million scheme, paid for by the anti-terror budget, include CCTV systems, 40 of which also contain automatic number plate recognition, or ANPR.
Coun Khan said the ANPR cameras had been discussed in principle at meetings last year and that the then-assistant chief constable Stuart Hyde had promised full consultation with communities, once detailed plans had been developed.
He said: “I was told these would be used to monitor crime and anti-social behaviour as well as terrorism and felt that when people are involved ANPR and CCTV can be a benefit to a community.
“But I was never informed in relation of the installation or geographical coverage of this scheme.”
Springfield councillor Tanveer Choudhry has submitted a petition calling for West Midlands Police to remove the cameras and Chief Constable Chris Sims to resign.
The cameras started appearing without public consultation in April.
Following inquiries by residents, it emerged that they were installed using a Home Office scheme, called Project Champion, to tackle terrorism and crime in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath.
Human rights organisation Liberty said it was also looking to launch a legal challenge in order to remove the surveillance cameras.
It said Project Champion focused predominately on Muslim areas and may constitute a breach of human rights.
The lack of any formal consultation could also form grounds for a legal challenge.
Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty, said: “Spying on a whole community in this way will only hamper efforts to tackle extremism.”