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Police sorry for spy cameras on Muslims

BIRMINGHAM, England, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- A police chief says he's "deeply sorry" for placing 200 surveillance cameras in two predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in England.

Disclosure of the existence of the CCTV cameras, many of them hidden, provoked outrage by civil libertarians and residents in Birmingham, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

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"I am sorry that we got such an important issue so wrong and deeply sorry that it has had such a negative impact on our communities," West Midland Police Chief Constable Chris Sims said.

Sims said he was sorry his force got the balance between counterterrorism and excessive intrusion into people's lives wrong.

"At the heart of the controversy surrounding Project Champion sits a dilemma faced by police on behalf of wider society, how to find a balance between on the one hand the duty to offer protection from serious harm and on the other the risk of excessive intrusion and the danger of stigmatizing a whole community," Sims said.

An independent review conducted by Thames Valley Police found Sims didn't think about regulations or legality before installing the cameras, the Telegraph said.

"The consultation phase was too little too late, and the lack of transparency about the purpose of the project has resulted in significant community anger and loss of trust," the review said.

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