We all know the story about a Home Secretary who cited a cat as the reason for an immigrant being allowed to stay in the UK, but have you heard the one about – and it’s along the same you couldn’t make this up’ line – a father that took a photo of his infant daughter in a shopping mall only to find himself being questioned by police on the pretext of anti-terrorism law?
A security guard hurriedly approached Chris White whilst he was in the throes of using his phone to take a photo of his 4-year-old daughter after he had bought her an ice cream at Braehead shopping centre, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Mr White claims that the security officer all but ran towards him and threatened him, stating that the photo he had taken of his own child, Hazel, was “illegal”.
Mr White says that he explained that his young daughter, who by this time was crying, was the only person featured in the photo, but his understandable protest was ignored. The police were then summoned to the shopping centre and they quickly threatened to confiscate his phone, citing the Terrorism Act, when he refused to delete the photos he had posted on Facebook only minutes before.
But the Terrorism Act does not give officers the right to delete photos or destroy storage media during such a search unless permitted to do so under a court order. As they were powerless to do anything else and their verbal threats had been met with a rebuttal, the police in attendance allowed him to keep the images and no further action was taken.
Clearly incensed following this incident, Mr White said: “I wonder how many shoplifters got away while they were dealing with my act of ‘terrorism’. Surely thousands of people have taken pictures inside shopping centres.”
Superintendent George Nedley of Strathclyde Police confirmed last week’s incident. “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 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 underway.” All the Braehead shopping centre management could say was that they sought to “maintain a safe and enjoyable environment” for shoppers. Not so for Mr. White, apparently, who remains shocked and angered by what appears to be an astonishing overreaction to what must come naturally to any parent.
It is quite absurd to find so many instances of a father not being able to take a photo of his own child in a public place. Shopping centres, swimming pools and schools are but a few places where you may find yourself being confronted or even threatened with the law. Is there really nothing better to occupy the time of police officers than this sort of nonsense?