Police review criticises Project Champion spy camera scheme in Birmingham
An independent review has criticised West Midlands Police over its scheme to install more than 200 surveillance cameras in two largely Muslim areas of Birmingham.
The cameras, some of which were hidden, sparked anger from civil liberties campaigners and residents in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in Birmingham, where they were predominantly installed.
A review, conducted by Thames Valley Police, into West Midlands Police's handling of the Project Champion scheme found "little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework" before the cameras were put up.
The review concluded that: "The consultation phase was too little too late, and the lack of transparency about the purpose of the project has resulted in significant community anger and loss of trust."
The scheme was organised by the Safer Birmingham Partnership, an initiative including West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and other agencies.
The partnership has acknowledged it should have been more explicit about the role of the city's Counter Terrorism Unit in setting up the network of 218 cameras.
The number plate recognition (ANPR) and CCTV cameras were financed under a counter-terrorism initiative but were marketed to locals as a general crime prevention measure.
Following angry public meetings in July, the Safer Birmingham Partnership issued a statement pledging a full and in-depth public consultation and West Midlands Police asked the Thames Valley force to conduct an independent review.
The cameras have not been switched on and have been covered with plastic bags to provide reassurance to local communities that footage is not being captured.
A Home Office spokesman said: "This project was agreed under a previous administration. Work is already under way on CCTV and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) regulation and the Government will be bringing forward proposals on it."