(I originally picked up on this story because I had noted a number of previous accounts which had largely taken place down south, or were local and seemed ridiculous.
This story seems to be developing the smell of bull, with so many accusations of persecution and victimisation of the man concerned, and his own highlighting of past mental problems – and adding that as yet another issue for which he is being victimised, that I have serious concerns about the original claims.)
When I was a little more active in photography in places where, shall we say ‘care’ had to be taken, I started to pay attention to cases involving the use of Sections 43 and 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Although neither section refers in any way to any aspect of photography, their wording is sufficiently general that almost anything can be construed to be covered by the act.
Section 43 refers to the search of persons, and begins:
(1) A constable may stop and search a person whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist to discover whether he has in his possession anything which may constitute evidence that he is a terrorist.
Section 44 refers to the relevant Authorisations, stating where and when a constable in uniform may stop and search a vehicle or person.
The Act may be viewed online here:
Father allegedly questioned under Terrorism Act after taking photographs of his own daughter in Braehead Shopping Centre
A story has been reported regarding the case of a father who photographed his four-year old daughter in the Braehead Shopping Centre near Glasgow.
After taking two photographs of his daughter enjoying an ice-cream treat on Friday afternoon (which he said were specifically framed to avoid including anyone else in their view), he has claimed that a security guard approached him, asked him to delete the photographs, and said they were ‘illegal’. However, as the images had been taken using a mobile phone, and been posted on Facebook, this was pointless.
At this point, the guard told him to “Remain right there” while he called the police, which the father chose to do.
He was subsequently questioned by two uniformed police officers who informed him there had been a complaint about his photography, and that the Braehead centre had “Clear signs” which stated that photography was forbidden.
He went on to state that he felt intimidated by the officers throughout the interview, and that when he tried to calm his daughter, who had been reduced to tears, one of the officers intervened, stating that he was not listening to him.
He says he was also told that under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000 the police could confiscate his mobile phone and delete the images, but that in this occasion would not do so – provided he supplied his full details.
Since the incident, the father has lodged complaints with both Braehead Shopping Centre and Strathclyde Police.
STV Glasgow and West has published their initial response:
Superintendent George Nedley of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Division said: “I can confirm that police were asked to speak to this gentleman by security staff at Braehead on Friday October 7.
“My officers attended and gave advice and no further action was taken by the police officers.
“I can confirm we have received a complaint regarding this incident and one of my senior officers has spoken to Mr White regarding this. As a result a full review of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the allegations made is under way.”
A spokesman for Braehead said: “Staff at an ice cream stall in Braehead became suspicious and alerted a member of the centre’s security staff after they saw a male shopper taking photographs at their counter.
“The member of security staff approached the man and politely asked if he had been taking photographs. Because of the nature of the incident, police became involved and also spoke to the man.
“Our priority is always to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for all of our shoppers and retailers. The member of our security staff acted in good faith.
“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. However, it is not our intention to – and we do not – stop innocent family members taking pictures.”
I don’t really want to comment on the circumstance around the incident itself (and I was not there in any case), as there may be further reports to come, for example, a review by the police is mentioned.
However, I do think it is worth pointing out that the response made by Braehead seems to fall into the category of “Making it up as we go along”. Specifically, if they really do have a ‘no photography’ policy in the centre, then they cannot state that it is not their intention to “stop innocent family members taking pictures.”
This is inconsistent, and simply does not make any sense.
Clearly, if this was not little more than a lie, then the centre’s own security would have seen that the father had only taken two pictures of his own daughter alone, which would appear to meet their own basic requirement of “innocent family members taking pictures”, and the matter of the police being called would simply never have arisen.
You can also search this Blog to find some recent articles on this subject in relation to abuse of photographers by the police, including numbers of incidents as revealed by a Freedom of Information request: Stop and Search under the Terrorism Act 2000.
There is also an article which covers a statement issued by the police stating that they had listened to criticisms of heavy-handedness with regard to the treatment photographers under this Act, and that procedures were being modified accordingly: Section 44 abuse of photographers continues despite warnings to police.
Maybe that memo still has to be issued north of the border.
Follow-up controversy and dispute
When I first posted on this report, I didn’t like the ‘smell’ of the story – something didn’t quite gel, or sound ‘right’, although I couldn’t put my finger on it from the available information in the media.
Accordingly, I wrote relatively carefully, and avoided endorsing it, so was careful to use words like ‘allegedly’ liberally, and added an initial comment distancing even this from the circumstances of the incident, and referred to my past notes regarding Section 43/44 and the wider issues previously covered largely down south.
Unfortunately, it seems my nasal radar was not mistaken, and the warning signs detected in the initial story have proven correct.
While it appears that the part played by Braehead is honourably concluded, and they have not apologised to the father for the incident, but gone on to change and clarify their policy on photography to make it clear that families can take photographs not only in Braehead, but in other centres owned by the group.
However, there is now an acrimonious dispute between the father and the police, with the father insisting he was interviewed with regard to photography and terrorism, while the police have issued a statement denying that this was the case, and that officers were called to speak to him about another issue.
Unlike those who have rallied around the father in response to the publicity he has sought online, I am not prepared to accept his account without question. Nor am I prepared to go with the ‘all police are liars’ brigade.
Rather, since I started this post, I will post links to the stories as the appear in the media, and hope they reach a conclusion, which I will accept in either party’s favour…
BBC News – Father’s anti-terror row over photoOctober 10, 2011
BBC News – Row over photo in shopping centreOctober 10, 2011
BBC News – Braehead centre issues apology over photo rowOctober 19, 2011
BBC News – Police hit back at Braehead photo row dad Chris WhiteOctober 13, 2011
There is no ‘one stop shop’, or single solution to help those living (or perhaps ‘existing’) with the effects of dementia, and this is a road I have walked.
However, even now, it remains painfully clear that there is still not really a proper understanding or awareness of this disease in the community at large, and for those who find they have suddenly become part of this community it can be overwhelming, and difficult for them to take a step back for a moment and re-organise their lives to suit. Instead, they can feel as if they are alone, and unable to find help. (And I’d rather not go any deeper.)
Hopefully the travelling show described below will reach a lot more than the 10,000 it aims to, and if only a small percentage of those go on to be assisted in some way, then the actions of all concerned must be applauded:
A bus that will tour Scotland to raise awareness of dementia was unveiled in Dundee on Thursday.
The Alzheimer Scotland dementia community roadshow is a purpose-built bus, which will travel around Tesco stores in Scotland, aiming to reach 10,000 people over the next three years.
It is backed by Alzheimer Scotland and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Bus to tour Scotland to raise awareness of dementia
Henry Simmons, chief executive for Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We believe that the roadshow will quickly become a vital part of the support we are able to offer people around Scotland.
“It will help us reach communities across the country, with information and advice, should they have any concerns about dementia.
“It is a truly pioneering form of support and will allow us talk to people, face to face, in communities all over Scotland. No one should face dementia alone and I am delighted that this service will help us achieve this.”
via Bus to tour Scotland to raise awareness of dementia | Dundee and Tayside | STV News. (Includes short video report.)
Further details and related information from:
Alzheimer’s Society – Building a better future for people with dementia (Dementia Community Roadshow web page.)