The cameras in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, some of which were hidden, were paid for with £3m of government funds earmarked for tackling terrorism.

An independent report was highly critical of the Project Champion scheme and West Midlands Police.

The force agreed in December they should be removed and said none of the 218 cameras had ever been switched on.

‘Learning process’

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said: “The work starting today shows that we have listened to what our communities wanted and acted upon those wishes.

“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.”

Members of the community said they were angry about the lack of consultation when the cameras were first installed in April 2010.

Moseley resident Steve Jolly dubbed them spy cameras and said the covert ones were a gross invasion of people’s privacy and civil liberties.

He began campaigning for their removal and at a police authority meeting in October, Chief Constable Chris Sims said the cameras should be taken down to help regain the community’s trust, at an estimated cost of £630,000.

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