Police chiefs accused of misleading Birmingham councillors over spy cameras

Two police chiefs could face condemnation and disciplinary action after an inquiry was launched into claims they deliberately misled councillors about surveillance targeted at Muslim communities in Birmingham.

The £3.5m initiative to ringfence two Muslim suburbs with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras was shelved in June after an investigation by the Guardian.

Sir Paul Scott-Lee, who was West Midlands chief constable until April 2009, and Stuart Hyde, who was assistant chief constable, stand accused of deliberately misleading councillors over the true motives behind the monitoring programme. Several councillors who attended a meeting about why the cameras were being installed in their wards say they were told they were part of a Home Office scheme targeting antisocial behaviour and vehicle crime.

A network of 169 ANPR cameras was erected this year to form “rings of steel” around Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, two largely Muslim neighbourhoods. There was no public consultation before the project, which also included the installation of additional CCTV and covert cameras.

Guardian, 28 August 2010

Update:  See also Salma Yaqoob’s website, which reproduces the presentation she made on behalf of Sparkbrook Respect party councillors to the council’s scrutiny inquiry into Project Champion.