Birmingham stops Muslim CCTV surveillance scheme

      A project to place two Muslim areas in Birmingham under surveillance has been dramatically halted after an investigation by The Guardian revealed it was a counter-terrorism initiative. Bags are being placed over hundreds of cameras, which were recently installed in the neighbourhoods of Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, to reassure the community that their movements are not being monitored until a public consultation takes place. West Midlands Police and the Birmingham City Council apologised for not being "more explicit" about the funding arrangements of the project, which stipulated they should be used to combat terrorism. Officials insisted that the three million pound project could still go ahead if the consultation showed support for the cameras. Under the initiative, Project Champion, the suburbs were to be monitored by a network of 169 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras - three times more than in the entire city center. There was no formal consultation over the scheme, which includes an additional 49 CCTV cameras. Human rights lawyers have pledged to seek a judicial review of the scheme.

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