Braehead shopping centre has been shamed into reversing its ban on photography after an internet campaign.
It follows an oppressive incident at Glasgow's Braehead shopping centre when security guards challenged a man who had taken a photo of his young daughter.
Chris White was bullied by security guards and then questioned by police after taking a photo of four-year-old Hazel eating an ice cream on Friday.
White said that, when he was interviewed by police, an officer warned him that anti-terrorism powers meant his camera phone could be confiscated.
In response Chris White set up a Facebook page called Boycott Braehead which, by Monday evening, had been liked by about 20,000 people. In a message posted tonight on the Facebook page, White said he would continue to press for other
shopping centres to change their policies. He wrote:
Hopefully we can now move forward with a common sense approach into a situation that allows families to enjoy precious moments with their children, but at the same time ensure that such public places are areas where we can feel safe and protected.
I have been overwhelmed by the public response on this issue and thank everyone for their support.
Capital Shopping Centres said the new rules would apply immediately to its 11 UK shopping centres. These include the Trafford Centre, near Manchester, Lakeside, in Essex, the Metrocentre, in Gateshead, and the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. It said
the policy was also likely to be adopted at three other centres in which it is a partner.
Staff will no longer try to prevent family and friends taking pictures of each other, although security guards might still challenge anyone acting suspiciously.
Capital Shopping Centres, which also owns malls in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Nottingham, said: CSC can confirm that we will be changing the photography policy at our 11 directly owned centres and that at the other three centres,
which we own in partnership with other companies, we will be discussing with our partners the policy change and recommending that it be adopted.
Update: Police dispute White's account BUT won't tell us their side of the story
14th October 2011. See press release
See also Are police attempting to smear The Braehead One, ask his
Rob Shorthouse, Director of Communications for Strathclyde Police said:
It is absolutely right and proper that when a complaint about the police is made that it is fully investigated. The public need to know that their complaints are taken seriously and are acted upon promptly and professionally. This is exactly what has
happened in this incident.
Mr White complained to the police about the incident in Braehead. In his statement he set out a set of circumstances that has caused widespread debate, comment and criticism for those who he alleged were involved. Mr White chose to make his complaint
public, to give interviews to the media and to seek debate on social networks.
We are well aware that, as a result of this social media conversation, demonstrations are being planned this weekend at Braehead. We have also seen global media coverage of the incident -- all of which has painted the shopping centre, this police force
and, arguably, our country in a very negative light.
It is because Mr White chose to seek publicity for his account of events and because of the planned demonstration that we feel compelled to take the unusual step of making our findings public.
In reaching our conclusions, officers took statements from a number of independent witnesses and viewed the substantial amount of CCTV that was available in the centre.
On reviewing all of this objective evidence, I have to tell you that we can find no basis to support the complaint which Mr. White has elected to make.
The members of the public who asked for the security staff to become involved have told us that they did so for reasons which had absolutely nothing to do with him taking photographs of his daughter. They had a very specific concern, which I am not in a
position to discuss publicly, that they felt the need to report. It was because of this very specific concern that security staff became involved. They were right to raise their concern and we are glad that they did so.
The security staff were the ones who asked for police involvement. Again, this was not because Mr White said he had been photographing his daughter, but was due to the concerns that they themselves had regarding this particular incident.
When our officers became involved they did not confiscate any items, nor was Mr White questioned under counter terrorist legislation. It is wrong to suggest that the police spoke to Mr White because he claimed he had been photographing his daughter, or
that officers made any reference to counter terror legislation. Mr. White knows, or ought to know, why our officers spoke with him.
Since Mr White chose to publish his version of events on Facebook, we have seen substantial traditional media and social media activity around the story. People have been very quick to offer their opinions on this issue and were very keen to accept Mr
White's story as the only evidence that was available. Clearly this was not the case.
Social media allowed this story to spread quickly around the world. I hope that the same media allows this part of the tale to move just as quickly.
For the avoidance of any doubt, we have fully investigated this incident and we can say that none of the independent and objective evidence presented to us by either the members of the public or the CCTV backs up the claims made by Mr White.
Comment: Miserable Britain
Perhaps indeed there may indeed be question marks over this case.
But I think the police have missed the point, if they think the widespread sympathy with White's campaign is just down to this one incident, then they are clearly wrong.
Public protest has kicked off because of a long history of police and security staff taking it on themselves to ban public photography for trivial reasons taken out of all perspective. Not to mention the general officious and repressive climate in
Britain, where jumped up officials take it on themselves to try and micro manage people's day to day behaviour to match some politically correct dystopia.
If the authorities are worried by public responses such as this, perhaps they should look to the wider issues of the authoritarian political correctness that is making Britain truely miserable.