[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Call to boycott 'hoodie' ban mall
Bluewater shopping centre
Bluewater said there is not a complete ban on baseball caps
A children's charity has hit back at a controversial ban on hooded tops by urging young people to boycott the shopping centre which imposed it.

Bluewater in Kent said the move is not a complete ban, but an attempt to clamp down on what it sees as intimidating behaviour.

The Children's Society has called it "blatant discrimination based on stereotypes and prejudices".

Bluewater said the move was not just directed at children.

The shopping centre has drawn up a code of conduct to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The guidelines say intimidating behaviour by groups or individuals and the wearing of clothing which deliberately obscures the face, such as hooded tops or baseball caps, will not be allowed.

Bluewater property manager Helen Smith said: "We're very concerned that some of our guests don't feel at all comfortable in what really is a family environment."

'Slippery slope'

But The Children's Society has reacted angrily to the 'hoodie' ban, calling it a "blanket measure" that infringes the rights of young people.

Here you have a shopping centre banning people who wear the items of clothing that they sell at the centre
Tim Linehan, The Children's Society

"We urge children and young people to use their yearly spending power of 70 million to reverse the ban on so-called 'yob' clothing at Bluewater shopping centre," said policy director Kathy Evans.

"This ban is a case of blatant discrimination based on stereotypes and prejudices that only fuels fear.

"Kneejerk reactions like the Bluewater ban are a slippery slope that the government should challenge."

Faces obscured

Bluewater responded by saying it was not a complete ban and it was not just directed at children.

Spokeswoman Rachael Nolan told the BBC on Friday: "What we're saying is we don't want people in Bluewater deliberately obscuring their faces."

The Children's Society said it also opposes the ban because of what it called "double standards".

Wearing a baseball cap or hooded top does not indicate that an individual will be prone to committing an offence
Kent Police statement

Spokesman Tim Linehan said: "Here you have a shopping centre banning people who wear the items of clothing that they sell at the centre.

"What happens to young people if they buy those items of clothing on the premises, are they not allowed to wear them on the way out?

"If you get these sort of actions, you see more and more alienation between older people and younger people and that's just not the way to live in a modern society."

Kent Police, which has a dedicated on-site team at Bluewater, has backed the ban.

But a statement from the force added that "wearing a baseball cap or hooded top does not indicate that an individual will be prone to committing an offence".

'Intimidating' uniform

Ashley Sweetland, chairman of the UK Youth Parliament, said young people wearing hoodies was "simply a fashion statement".

Tony Blair gave his backing to the shopping centre on Thursday as he announced a Labour crackdown on "yobbish behaviour [which] will not be tolerated any more".

And the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said he was concerned that hooded tops had become part of an "intimidating" uniform.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have rejected the government's support for the ban.


SEE ALSO:
Prescott backing hooded tops ban
12 May 05 |  UK Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific