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A campaign to boycott the Braehead Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Glasgow has gained momentum over the weekend after an account of an incident in which the Terrorism Act was cited against a father who took a picture of his 4 year old daughter on a novelty motorbike was posted to Facebook on Saturday night.
In his account, Chris White says he was apprehended by a security guard, who detained White and his distressed daughter before calling the police, who cited the prevention of terrorism legislation and warned that his camera/phone could be confiscated for taking photographs within the centre.
“[The guard] said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was 'illegal' and not allowed and then asked me to delete any photos I had taken,” White said.
“He then said I would have to stay right where I was while he called the police, which seemed as little extreme. My daughter was crying by this stage, but I said that was fine I would wait and began to comfort my daughter who was saying she didn't like the man and wanted to go.
“The older police officer was actually quite intimidating in his nature. He then said that under the Prevention of Terrorism Act he was quite within in his rights to confiscate my mobile phone without any explanation for taking photos within a public shopping centre, which seems an abuse of the act. He then said on this occasion he would allow me to keep the photos, but he wanted to take my full details.
“Name, place of birth, age, employment status, address. Had I not had my daughter with me, and the fact that we are trying to bring our daughter up to respect and trust police officers, I may have exercised my right not to provide those details.”
Crucially, White says at the outset that he identified himself as the father of his daughter, the subject of the photographs.
"I explained I had taken 2 photos of my daughter eating ice cream and that she was the only person in the photo so didn't see any problem," he said.
Within 24 hours of the account being posted on Facebook, calls for a boycott and flash mobbing of the centre had escalated on Twitter, with the story trending in Glasgow on Saturday night.
The Braehead shopping centre has not replied directly to The Firm’s requests for comment, but issued a statement which appears to confirm the majority of White’s account of the incident, but contradicts the crucial claim that White's relationship as father to his daughter was established.
"At no time in the initial conversation was the member of our security staff informed by the man that the child in question was his daughter," the Braehead statement claims.
“We have a ’no photography’ policy in the centre to protect the privacy of staff and shoppers and to have a legitimate opportunity to challenge suspicious behaviour if required," the statement said.
“However, it is not our intention to - and we do not - stop innocent family members taking pictures.”
At the time of going to press, the Facebook page of the incident had received 1288 likes and 293 comments, almost universally critical of the incident.
“I work 2mins from Braehead and had planned to do all my Christmas shopping there. Stuff them they apparently don't want business. I too have been going for years and never seen a sign. Laws or not, common sense would tell you this man is not a terrorist!” one wrote.
“Utterly disgraceful behaviour by people who are supposed to uphold the law, but seem to want to bend it to match their petty-minded views. What possible positive outcome will this have?” another asked.
Marketing and PR magazine The Drum reported on Sunday that “the management at Braehead Shopping Centre has a crisis PR situation on its hands.”
White says he has received an apology from Strathclyde police for the distress caused, and the force has confirmed that a “full review of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the allegations made is under way.”
An account of the entitlements of photographers in public places can be read here.
Photo Credit: Chris White