UK Man Questioned by Police After Cell Phone Photo of Daughter in Mall

Last Friday, 45-year-old Chris White was at the Braehead shopping center near Glasgow, when he took a snapshot of his daughter Hazel eating some ice cream. He was then confronted by security guards — and later the police — who cited the Prevention of Terrorism Act to explain that it was in their rights to confiscate his phone. While they did allow him to keep the photos, they demanded his personal details. Afterward, White created a Facebook page titled “Boycott Braehead” in an effort to draw attention to the incident.

Here’s White’s account of what happened that day:

Around 4pm this evening I took the attached photo of my 4 year old daughter looking cute on the back of a vespa seat at an ice cream bar inside Braehead shopping centre in the middle of a shopping trip. Having just bought her some new jigsaws we were going to go look at some clothes shops but never managed to continue our shopping trip.

Walking down the shopping mall a man approached me from behind as I was carrying my daughter in my arms. He came from behind me, cutting in front of me and told me to stop. That was quite a shock as I am wary of people with crew cuts and white shirts suddenly appearing in front of me, but then realised he was a security guard.

He then 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. 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 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. After about 5 minutes two police officers arrived.

The older police officer was actually quite intimidating in his nature. He said that there had been a complaint about me taking photos and that there were clear signs in Braehead shopping centre saying that no photographs were allowed. I tried to explain that I hadn’t seen any clearly displayed signs and that I had taken 2 photos of my daughter.

As i was trying to explain he said I was interrupting him and that I should remain quiet until he had finished speaking to me. Not wanting to distress my daughter further, and to allow him to finish I let him continue. At one stage i was reassuring my daughter that everything was okay, only to be told I wasn’t listening by the officer.

Once he had finished, i then started to explain again my situation, only for the officer to start speaking again. Apparently different rules of respect apply when someone other than a police officer is speaking. I explained that that far from being aggressive when the security guard came over, the way he approached me was threatening and intimidating. I was told that was my word against his. Although this didn’t seem to be the case when the security guard alleged that I was threatening when I had a 4 year old in my arms and waited patiently for the police to arrive.

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.

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. My view is that up until that stage the police were using powers their stop and account powers. I had done that so would have been within my rights not to give further details, however I chose to give the details.

The police officer also said that the security guard was within his rights to now ask me to leave Braehead Shopping Centre and bar me from the premises which I was happy to oblige.

Four things that are truly ridiculous the whole photo situation. How many people have taken photos of their children in Build-a-bear or on rides and attractions in Braehead? The police officer even thinking of making reference to the Prevention of Terrorism Act; wondering how many shoplifters got away while my act of terrorism was being dealt with; and the fact that i was clearly shopping and intended to continue shopping at a time when retail sales are at there lowest for over a decade. I guess Braehead shopping centre must be bucking the trend! [#]

Since Friday, the page has since received more than 10,000 “likes”, and the story has been reported by quite a few news outlets, including BBC News.

Boycott Braehead [Facebook]

Thanks for sending in the tip, David!

  • Ed

    Shame the guy didn’t get the names and / or numbers of the policemen and make a formal complaint. Or perhaps he did and it just isn’t mentioned. They need to be held accountable for this kind of crap.

  • James Farley

    This went viral earlier today, and the shopping centre in question seem to have the world’s worst PR firm on retainer and keep digging themselves further into a hole

  • Ed

    My bad – the BBC report says that the police have received an official complaint. Good to know.

  • Michael Thompson

    What a disgusting abuse f power. I can clearly see a few breaches of power there, and those responsible need accounting for.

  • Ed

    An interesting article on the whole thing here. My favourite part:

    “This all starts with Braehead’s blanket ban on photography: a red flag if ever one was needed that this is an organisation failing to grasp the modern, connected and untethered world.Photography does not belong to terrorists and paedophiles.Even the most basic, dumb, feature phones come with powerful cameras which allow virtually anyone to take pictures virtually anywhere. And people do.”

  • Anonymous

    This is friggin hilarious! I love how intimidating citizens are to the people supposedly there to serve and protect them. What the hell happened to common sense?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah he put in a complaint that night.

  • Anonymous

    They finally issued an apology and have changed their policy on photographs to allow friends and family to use their cameras in the mall :)

  • jim

    “They finally issued an apology and have changed their policy on photographs to allow friends and family to use their cameras in the mall :)They finally issued an apology and have changed their policy on photographs to allow friends and family to use their cameras in the mall :)”But, no doubt, the plonkers will remain in post.

  • Anonymous

    I think my wife said it was an apology ‘of sorts’ in that they apologised for the distress caused but are making no public note of anything they are doing, other than allowing more photos, the remedy the mess they made of it all in the first place.

    Someone is doing a FOI request and submitting a whole load of stuff to the home office so it’s going to keep bubbling along.

  • Ed


  • Jackie Wu

    Security guards and police on this island seem to be hired with a lack of common sense as prerequisite… How sad.

  • Anonymous

    Similar kinds of abuses happen in the US too, sometimes police or guards take it upon themselves to stop photography when there is no legal or security policy to do so.

    The UK is more extreme in some cases though, I think they have the highest density of security cameras in the world, despite its negligible benefit in terms of preventing crime and use in prosecuting crime, per unit of money spent.

    At any rate, trying to stop photography on terrorism grounds is pretty groundless, they don’t need to take their own photographs, so you’re really just hassling tourists, enthusiasts and social photography without a reason to do so.

  • Through Painted Eyes

    The same has happened to me previously. A friend and I were unaware of the strict no-photography policy at this mall: and after snapping a couple pictures I was approached by their security. I offered to show them the photos and leave the premises but refused to delete them, upon which they escorted us to their holding cells. They demanded us remove all our belongings, otherwise they threatened to cuff us. At this point my friend called the police on his cell and by the time they arrived, all our camera gear was laid out on the floor. The police let us go but only after we signed papers confirming that we would be banned from the mall.

    We did eventually receive a half-fast apology from mall management, but to this day we are still on paper banned from the mall, and nothing was ever done to the security guards.

    We had even made clear the unprofessionalism of the security guards and how they insinuated breaking our camera gear and forced us into holding cells even after offering to leave and not come back, but apparently photography is incredibly, incredibly offensive.

    I wonder how many more out there have been mistreated only because of taking pictures.

  • Igogosh

    This guy should sue the socks off them! This is ridiculous beyond belief. Here’s a great tip. Since all these crooks operate under maritime law (commercial) and do not obey the constitution (they pledged an oath to uphold it, by the way) HAVE A LITTLE CONTRACT HANDY WITH YOU. In it state that whoever takes your personal property is obliged to buy it within X amount of time. If payment doesn’t come through, you can press charges in court and freaking win the damages their actions caused you. State your rates in the contracts and whenever such opportunity presents itself, USE IT!

  • Tom Morris

    That sounds like one of those crazy pseudolaw – – rather than actual legal reality.

  • Mrbeard

    i’m 50/50 on this, in the UK shopping malls have been the target of extremist terrorists in the past, in 2008 a man was arrested photographing where all the metal bins were and the busiest areas in a Mall in Bristol, it was only by confiscating his phone that this information was discovered.  This probably explains the current procedures used on the guy in this article, though it does seem heavy handed in this case

  • Igogosh

    As a polite reminder I would like to bring up the Constitution – the supreme law of the land in the US and the UK:
    In England, Henry I’s proclamation of the Charter of Liberties in 1100 bound the king for the first time in his treatment of the clergy and the nobility. This idea was extended and refined by the English barony when they forced King John to sign Magna Carta in 1215. The most important single article of the Magna Carta, related to “habeas corpus”, provided that the king was not permitted to imprison, outlaw, exile or kill anyone at a whim—there must be due process of law first. This article, Article 39, of the Magna Carta read:
    No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land.This provision became the cornerstone of English liberty after that point. The social contract in the original case was between the king and the nobility, but was gradually extended to all of the people. It led to the system of Constitutional Monarchy, with further reforms shifting the balance of power from the monarchy and nobility to the House of Commons”. 

  • Igogosh

    Here’s a link, where a man fought his property back from the city with such a contract. The write up
    property returned

  • Merv Wignall

    Shopping centres are generally private property, and the property owners are well within their rights to ban photography on their own property.

    The guy shouldn’t have made such a fuss.  I asked permission to shoot in the last shopping centre I went to, the security guy denied it and I respected his decision.

  • janet

    I hope an apology wasn’t the only thing they gave him. I’m sure a nice sized gift card would have been  more appropriate !!

  • Ignorance is NOT Bliss

    What qualifies as “Due Process of Law”?  Are you saying that a city in Ca. that has overnight parking restrictions cannot ticket or tow you for parking on the streets at night?

  • Anonymous

    A girl sitting on a pink scooter? that’s about as clear an act of terrorism if there were one.

    Police intimidation directed at law abiding citizens reflects their increasing insecurity in dealing with real persistent threats.

  • skquinn

    I question the wisdom of bringing up this little girl to respect and trust police officers if they are going to continue disrespecting and abusing the trust of adults.