Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, May 09, 2011

Not In Our Backyard, If You Please

Police in two predominantly Muslim neighborhoods of Birmingham, England, were removed after local residents complained that their civil rights were being violated.

According to The Independent (UK) News, the 218 cameras, some of which were hidden, angered civil liberties campaigners and residents in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in Birmingham. The number plate recognition and CCTV cameras were financed under a counter-terrorism initiative but were initially marketed to locals as a general crime-prevention measure.

In October 2010, West Midlands Police Authority Chief Constable Chris Sims said the cameras should be pulled down in a bid to “regain the trust of residents.” The recommendation followed an independent report's criticism of the scheme, dubbed Project Champion.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe bent over backwards assuring the residents that they have listened to what their communities wanted and acted upon those wishes. That they have liaised closely with their communities to keep them informed of developments and when they can expect cameras to be removed from actual streets.

“I would like to stress,” she added, “that the cameras have never been operational. We accept that mistakes were made and we are keen to learn the lessons that emerged from the review into Project Champion. The removal of the cameras is part of that learning process. Our neighborhood teams will now focus on forging closer links with local communities across the affected areas.”

Ayoub Khan, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet member for local services and community safety was pleased that the recommendations of the review committee and the voice of the community had been heard.

Speaking in October, Mr. Sims said the “support and the confidence of local communities in West Midlands Police" was the most important thing for the force in the fight against crime and terrorism. We can fight crime and the threat posed by terrorism far more effectively by working hand in hand with local people, rather than alienating them through a technological solution which does not have broad community support," he told West Midlands Police Authority.

The previous month, an independent report by Thames Valley Police criticized the scheme for lack of transparency and insufficient consultation. Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said, “While we are delighted these cameras are being removed, this expensive and oppressive waste of time should never have been given the go-ahead. These cameras were totally unnecessary for anti-terror or anti-crime purposes and only served to alienate Muslim residents. Public trust in the police has been significantly undermined and will take years to rebuild.”

Uh-huh. So another section of England – the Midlands – has been made safe for Islamic theocracy. Terrorists – I mean, jihadist warriors – need fear no longer that the English authorities will interfere with them on their mission to transform England into a part of the Umma, the Islamic caliphate.

What would any of us have given if surveillance cameras had been installed around the World Trade Center at the time Mohammed Atta had visited it, just prior to his flight to Hell? New York City had a large Muslim community at the time, particularly in Brooklyn, and across the river along the waterfront cities in New Jersey. I’ve never heard that any residents “cooperated” with law enforcement authorities to catch him. Nor in Paterson, where he was apparently staying.

I’m sure we all felt so much more secure in our civil liberties on Sept. 12, 2001, knowing that, while the Towers fell, our civil liberties were intact. Such a comfort during such a terrible time. We know just how much we can count on the Muslim community now that Bin Laden is dead and his “flock” has scattered, authorities scrambling to find them before they crawl into the cracks of Muslim society until it’s safe to come out again.

Instead of letting mechanical cameras do the job of recording their activities, law enforcement must rely on a terrified public to finger what amounts to Islamic gangsters whose code is just as bad as the Mafia’s. If they can dial 911 before the terrorist dials the code to detonate the bomb, that is.


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