Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Victory for no to spy camera campaign!

Yesterday I attended the West Midlands Police Authority meeting to discuss Project Champion. The Authority has the remit to oversee West Midlands Police in the interests of the public.

After months of campaigning, common sense has finally won the day.

Senior West Midland Police Officers recommended to the meeting that all of the spy cameras be removed in the interests of rebuilding trust with the community.

This is a landmark victory for civil liberties. Congratulations to everybody involved in the campaign and especially to Sparkbrook residents.

The relationships between local councillors, residents, mosques, churches and community organisations, built up over the many years of campaigning, was the anvil on which this ill-conceived plan was broken.

On behalf of the Respect councillors I would like to thank them all for their support throughout.

No thanks however is due to the Police Authority who have illustrated throughout that they are simply unfit for purpose.
The Authority failed to fulfil its public responsibilities. They are supposed to be the public's eyes and ears, to be independent, to oversee and provide scrutiny on the workings of the police.

If they had done their job properly this whole mess would not have happened in the first place.

But instead of leadership and independence too often they showed deference and indecision.

Yesterday I witnessed the bizarre sight of its chair literally having to be dragged to making the right decision by the police themselves.

The authority is unfit for purpose. It needs an overhaul and that should start with the resignation of it's chair.

Campaigners can take comfort that all our hard work has not been in vain.

This is a victory for people power, and it is of national significance.

If the police had got away with rolling out Project Champion in Birmingham, other areas would soon have followed.

And if that had happened, I have no doubt there would have been miscarriages of justice.

Playing into the hands of extremists is not exactly the smartest move if you want to challenge the threat of extremism.