Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Mall bans father from photographing son in Sunderland

Kevin Geraghty-Shewan and his son Ben
Mr Geraghty-Shewan said the centre staff lacked "common sense"

A father was told he was not allowed take pictures of his four-year-old son at a Sunderland shopping centre because of fears he could be a paedophile.

Kevin Geraghty-Shewan, of Kent, was challenged by a security guard at The Bridges after photographing his son Ben on a children's train ride.

He was told he could not prove Ben was his son and later quizzed by a police officer called to the centre.

Bosses at the shopping centre have apologised for the "misunderstanding".

Mr Geraghty-Shewan, 48, of Gillingham, said they had visited the shopping centre after Ben was given £10 from his grandfather to buy a toy.

Mr Geraghty-Shewan's son on the ride
Ben Geraghty-Shewan is "train obsessed"

His wife had suggested taking a picture of their son on a mobile phone camera after the "train obsessed" youngster boarded the ride.

A security guard then approached and told him it was against the centre's policy and that he "could be a paedophile".

Mr Geraghty-Shewan said: "He said there was no way of proving what I was doing was innocent.

"I told him Ben was my own son and that he was blowing everything out of proportion.

"Five or 10 minutes later a police officer approached and asked for my name and address.

"I raised my voice, as I was getting a little annoyed by this stage, and he threatened to arrest me for breach of the peace.

"I could have understood if I had been observed hanging about but I had walked up with my wife and son.

'Security procedures'

"Surely these people should be able to tell the difference between the two situations - common sense was missing from the start."

In a statement The Bridges said safety was taken "very seriously" at all its shopping centres.

The statement said: "We do ask our security guards across the estate to be diligent in implementing our security measures, which includes monitoring photography in our centres.

"Unfortunately on this occasion what should have been a simple polite conversation led to a misunderstanding and we apologise for any offence caused.

"It is always our aim to implement our security procedures with the minimum of fuss and disruption to our shoppers."

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