Monday, 23 May 2005

Long Live The Hood


Long Live The Hood, originally uploaded by chantelle.

Bluewater profits from 'hoodies' ban
By David Derbyshire, Consumer Affairs Editor
(Filed: 20/05/2005)

The number of shoppers at the Bluewater centre in Kent has risen by more than a fifth since it banned gangs of youths wearing hoods and baseball caps.

The centre, near Dartford, says that 22 per cent more shoppers passed through its doors last weekend than during the corresponding period in 2004.

Days earlier it had announced a zero tolerance policy on face-obscuring "hoodies", baseball caps and swearing. The ban, part of a new code of conduct on anti-social behaviour, followed complaints about gangs intimidating shoppers.

The move won backing from Tony Blair and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, but was criticised by youth organisations for "confusing fashion with behaviour".

Mathew Clements, of Bluewater, stressed that the ban covered only groups acting in an aggressive or intimidating way who were using hoods or baseball caps to hide their identities. Individuals walking through the centre in a hooded sweatshirt were unlikely to be asked to expose their faces for the benefit of security cameras.

He said the publicity surrounding the hood ban had been "extraordinary" and had contributed to the "abnormal" rise in visitor numbers.

But he added: "Footfall is notoriously fickle, and affected by a variety of factors including weather, the economic climate and marketing activities."

The Elephant and Castle shopping centre in south London announced yesterday that it too was introducing a ban on hooded clothing. The centre houses several large chains including Tesco, Woolworths, WH Smith and Iceland.

Mike Knell, the manager, said: "When you look at how the general public view these youths with hoods on they are quite intimidated. The ban on hoods has been introduced to make people a bit more at ease so they feel safer when they are doing their shopping here.

"We have CCTV installed throughout the shopping centre and the ban on hoods will make the cameras much more effective in identifying any troublemakers. Since we introduced the ban we have noticed the malls are a lot quieter as we have not got so many gangs of youths simply hanging around.''

Despite the publicity given to the Bluewater ban, only a handful of other centres are cracking down on hooded tops. The Trafford Centre has been operating a similar ban since it opened in Manchester seven years ago, while a shopping centre in Middleton, north Manchester, also bans hoods.

However, the Metro Centre in Gateshead, Britain's largest shopping and leisure centre, said it had no plans to introduce a ban. The Queen's Arcade in Cardiff and the Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield are not banning hoods.

The Children's Society described the Bluewater ban on hoods "blatant discrimination based on stereotypes and prejudices". However, Bluewater insists that the ban is not "children-specific".

1 comment:

R6manDAN! said...

where do the boundaries come in?what about facial hair? this could be used to conceal identities. and what about shops in the centre that sell hooded tops?..