June 5, 2010
Counterterrorism police have targeted hundreds of surveillance cameras on two Muslim areas of Birmingham, enabling them to track the precise movements of people entering and leaving the neighbourhoods.
The project has principally been sold to locals as an attempt to combat antisocial behaviour, vehicle crime and drug dealing in the area. But the cameras have been paid for by a ¬£3m grant from a government fund, the Terrorism and Allied Matters Fund, which is administered by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
About 150 automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook in recent months. Birmingham’s two predominantly Muslim suburbs will be covered by three times more ANPR cameras than are used to monitor the entire city centre. They include about 40 cameras classed as “covert”, meaning they have been concealed from public view.
The funding arrangement was not made clear to the handful of councillors who were briefed that the cameras would appear in their area. Instead, they were told only that the money had come from the Home Office. “I raised my concern then: is this really about spying?” said Salma Yaqoob, a member of the Respect party and councillor for Sparkbrook.
This article was posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 5:19 am