Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 arrives in Scotland (MAYBE!!!)

Police stop(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:

Terrorism Act 2000

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.”

Shopping centre guard calls police over father taking ‘illegal’ photographs of his daughter | Glasgow and West | STV News.

Comment

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…

Strathclyde Police – Statement re incident at Braehead, 7 October 2011

Shopping centre guard calls police over father taking ‘illegal’ photographs of his daughter | Glasgow and West | STV News October 10, 2011

Braehead apologises to father at centre of ice-cream storm | Glasgow and West | STV NewsOctober 10, 2011

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 – Braehead shopping centre owner changes UK photographs policyOctober 11, 2011

BBC News – Police hit back at Braehead photo row dad Chris WhiteOctober 13, 2011

Police say Braehead photo row father complaint ‘has no basis’ | Glasgow and West | STV NewsOctober 13, 2011

Express.co.uk – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Photo row father to sue policeOctober 14, 2011

Shopping trip father denies being drunk – Herald Scotland | News | Home NewsOctober 15, 2011

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October 9, 2011 - Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | ,

2 Comments »

  1. I have to agree that it sounds a bit heavy handed….
    But as someone who is both a photographer and occasional visitor to braehead, even I woild think twice about taking pictures in the center. The signs could be no clearer than they are just now (big and blatant on the doors) they are clear no photography in here..

    The terrorism act hasn’t just arrived here as both yourself and I know private security guards have been quoting it for years.

    I feel sorry for the guy as he likely didn’t see the signs because he had a small child with him.
    What has not been established in the original article is whether he was actually questioned under either of these sections (44 or 43) it could be the security enforcement guys made a glib remark as is common.
    It doesn’t say the police held him or as would be normal in either a 44or 43 stop and search that he was frisked down or had bags searched.
    Section 44 is effectively dead in the water for holding photogs.
    Section 43 pushes the balance of reasonable suspicion higher.
    Either way for images to be deleted its beyond either the remit of the security or police who attended the scene on the day
    John

    Like

    Comment by John Farnan (@johnfphotos) | October 10, 2011

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the info regarding the signs, It’s years since I ventured into Braehead, and so had no idea what signs they might actually have on show (regardless of what they may have stated to the media).

    Agree with all your observations, which is why I largely held off making any specific comments about the event itself, and stuck with generalisations.

    As per your own comments, this is only a media article, and lacks proper detail, but as it is all we have to go on, the list you made of items that are not known or established shows we have more points unanswered than answered.

    So, fingers crossed that there might be a later story, if the complaints mentioned are followed through, and not just dropped.

    Like

    Comment by Apollo | October 10, 2011


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