There were no justifiable reasons for West Midlands Police to flood predominantly Muslim areas of Birmingham with anti-terror CCTV spy cameras, an independent inquiry into Project Champion has found.
The probe by a city council scrutiny committee is severely critical of police chiefs and the lack of consultation before 200 cameras were placed in Sparkbrook, Springfield, Bordesley Green and Washwood Heath earlier this year.
Chief Constable Chris Sims has apologised for the actions of the force and agreed to remove the cameras.
Scrutiny committee chairman James Hutchings is now demanding better working arrangements between the council and the police.
Coun Hutchings (Con Edgbaston) said: “It gives us no pleasure to criticise colleagues in the public service but things did go wrong.
“I hope that the rebuilding of trust and confidence between the West Midlands Police and the local communities will move on from here.”
He accepted that Project Champion was first planned in 2007 when the country was in a state of high alert following terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.
The Police Authority agreed with the Chief Constable’s recommendation to remove the cameras, and has asked for work to be carried out into the associated costs of removing the cameras via a specially set up project board.
Derek Webley, chairman of West Midlands Police Authority, said: “The authority recognises the sensitivity and public interest in Project Champion, and the need for progress.
“After detailed and thorough consideration, the authority has given its ‘in principle’ support to the proposal for all the cameras to be removed.
“We welcome and appreciate the Chief Constable’s professional advice in this matter, and we accept his opinion that removing the cameras will not undermine the operational integrity of policing in these areas.
“The force will present this recommendation to the Project Board, and I hope that we can move quickly following this. As part of this process, the force will need to give the Authority a clear picture of the financial and other implications.”
Council cabinet member for community safety Ayoub Khan described Project Champion as an “unacceptable attack on the Muslim community.”
Coun Khan said: “It is a matter of regret that the West Midlands Police were not transparent in their dealings with Birmingham City Council and that there was not sufficient public consultation before these cameras were put up.”