Photographer’s complaint triggers police ‘apology’ call (update)

March 22, 2012

An amateur photographer who was stopped after taking pictures of his daughter eating an ice-cream says Scotland?s police watchdog has urged the Strathclyde force to issue an apology.

Two police officers were called to Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow on 7 October 2011, after security staff raised concerns over White, who had taken pictures of his four-year-old daughter Hazel ? in breach of the centre’s no photography rule.

Widespread publicity surrounding the incident led Braehead?s owners, Capital Shopping Centres, to change its policy, allowing photography for non-commercial purposes of families and friends, and of the shopping centre generally.

However, White ? who was not arrested and faced no criminal charges ? complained to the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS) alleging that an officer abused his position and was ?uncivil? and ?intimidating? towards him.

Shortly after the drama, the 45-year-old said he received a letter from police claiming officers were told he had been seen talking to himself, was under the influence of alcohol and had taken a photo of a shop assistant with the zip of his trousers undone.

White denied the allegations.

Speaking yesterday, White told Amateur Photographer (AP) that the PCCS found ?no cause? to uphold his complaint overall.

However, he added: ?They [the PCCS] do say that Strathclyde Police need to issue an apology for making references that I appeared under the influence of alcohol, as no witness statements from the shopping centre staff or the police say that I appeared under the influence of alcohol.?

White said that, in witness statements submitted to the PCCS, two shop assistants claimed they had noticed his trouser zip was down at the time.

White said the PCCS dismissed his claim that police threatened him with anti-terror legislation, on the basis of statements given by the officers who were at the scene.

?The two officers have said that they did not mention terrorism and spoke to me in relation to my behaviour and reports of taking photos of staff members. They state that they were polite and respectful and I was argumentative and disruptive.?

The PCCS declined to comment, saying it does not discuss individual cases with the media, for fear of discouraging other members of the public to come forward with complaints about officers.

White said he does not plan to pursue legal action against Strathclyde Police, for alleged defamation of character, after the force defended its position in a lengthy statement published on its website last year.

He fears that the possibility of losing any such case would lead to huge legal costs that would put his home at risk.

?Where someone is considering action against a public authority or large corporation, then the financial risks are heavily stacked against them,? he told us.

Speaking on Thursday, Strathclyde Police confirmed that it has received a response from the PCCS.

A spokesperson told AP: ‘They [the PCCS] have asked for clarification surrounding witness statements.

‘At this time we have not been instructed to apologise to Mr White.’

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