A father claims he was quizzed by police under anti-terror legislation after he was spotted taking a photo of his daughter in a shopping centre.

Chris White took a picture of his four-year-old daughter, Hazel, while she was eating an ice cream at Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow last Friday. However, Mr. White said a security guard ordered him to stop, claiming it was ‘illegal’ to use a camera in the centre, and asked him to delete any images he had taken on his mobile phone.

Mr. White had paused to take a snap of his daughter posing on the back of a scooter seat at an ice cream bar on their way around the shops.

Explaining the incident on his Boycott Braehead Facebook page, Mr. White said: ‘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. I also said that I wasn’t that willing to delete the photo’s and there seemed little point as I had actually uploaded them to Facebook.

‘He then said I would have to stay right where I was while he called the police, which seemed a little extreme.’

When police arrived he told Mr White there were ‘clear signs’ in the centre ordering shoppers not to take pictures inside the mall.

Mr White said: ‘The police officer than started to say that there were privacy issues around photographs, to which I said yes and in a busy shopping centre I waited until only my daughter was in the shot.

‘I explained that I was happy to show him the photos although not sure under what authority he could ask me to delete the photos.’

Mr. White said police told him they ‘were within their rights under the Prevention of Terrorism Act’ to confiscate his mobile phone without any explanation.

However officers let Mr. White keep his photos but took all his details and he was then allowed to leave.

The shopping centre yesterday apologised to Mr. White and said it was changing its policy ‘with immediate effect’ so families and friends can use their cameras in the centre.
‘We wish to apologise to Mr. White for the distress we may have caused to him and his family and we will be in direct contact with him to apologise properly.’

There are several problems that led to this sad and sorry state of affairs:

1. The Security Officer was either badly trained or badly briefed as to what action he/she should take in the event of someone taking photographs in the shopping centre. Presumably the ban on taking photographs in the Mall was imposed by the Mall owners and not enforceable by law or local by-law. Therefore if an offence was committed then it was a civil offence not a criminal offence, thus the Police did not have jurisdiction in the matter. It was against the Shopping Centre Rules but that isn’t ‘illegal’.

2. With respect to being instructed to delete images, neither the Shopping Centre management not the Police has the authority to instruct anyone to delete their images. Only with a Court Order can the Police order you to delete images and then they are enforcing the Court’s instructions.

3. Mr. White said police told him they ‘were within their rights under the Prevention of Terrorism Act’ to confiscate his mobile phone without any explanation. This is actually a misinterpretation of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 which covers photography in detail, not the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Section 76 of the Counter terrorism Act ‘permits the arrest of anyone found eliciting, publishing or communicating information relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. I’m sure Mr. White’s daughter is not a member of any of the above groups.

At times such as these, we members of the public need sufficient knowledge to challenge these badly trained and badly briefed Security and Police Officers with such questions as,

“How under Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 do you think a photograph of my four year old daughter sitting on this scooter seat at this ice cream bar is likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism especially when she isn’t serving with either the armed forces, the police or the security services?”

We all appreciate the need to keep people safe from Terrorism but let’s have some common sense please!