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Birmingham jihad-cam network suspended

Covert CCTV controversy cooled

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A crime prevention quango has postponed activation of a new CCTV network trained on Muslim areas of Birmingham, and funded from the central police counter-terrorism budget, after a local outcry.

The 218 cameras are concentrated on the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook districts. They will now be covered by plastic sacks until a public consultation is completed, the BBC reports.

The network was paid for by £3m from the Terrorism and Allied Matters Fund, which is administered by ACPO. As well as standard CCTV monitoring, the system allows automatic number plate recognition, to track and check vehcles against police and Security Service databases.

Controversy erupted when it emerged that Safer Birmingham Partnerships (SBP), which installed the network, did not tell residents it was a counter-terrorism project. It was also reported by The Guardian that about 40 camera locations were to be kept secret.

Nevertheless, SBP denied the project was designed mainly to keep tabs on potential extremist activity in Birmingham's Muslim communities, claiming it would help investigate all types of crime in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook.

Local Labour MP Roger Godsiff called for the planned activation of the network to be suspended. Today he welcomed the public consultation. ®

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