Group backs CCTV camera removal in Birmingham

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The organisation behind more than 200 surveillance cameras installed in mainly Muslim areas of Birmingham has agreed to their removal.

Under Project Champion, cameras were installed in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook areas earlier this year, but residents said they were not consulted.

Now the Project Champion board - which includes police and Birmingham city councillors - said they should go.

It is thought a final decision will be made in December.

Residents were angry that the cameras were paid for with money to tackle terrorism.

'Right decision'

On Monday, West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims said out of five options being considered over the camera's future, he would like to see them removed in the hope it would rebuild trust within the communities.

An independent report into the £3m scheme by Thames Valley Police was highly critical of those involved, including the police and the police authority.

A new Project Champion board was set up in July after a public meeting at which the police were criticised.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe, who chairs the board, said: "At today's meeting we all agreed that the complete removal of all the cameras from the area was the only way forward if we are to start to rebuild vital community support."

Councillor Ayoub Khan, cabinet member for community safety, added: "I am in full agreement with the decision made at today's project board meeting.

"The city council's independent scrutiny report and the independent police review conducted by Thames Valley Police have been useful processes to go through and I do believe that we, as public authorities, are making the right decision to remove the cameras."

Campaigner Steve Jolly, who is also a member of the independent advisory group which reports to the project board, said he was pleased the community had been listened to.

The police authority is looking into the costs involved in having the cameras removed before it makes a final decision, thought to be later this year.

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