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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
Prescott backing hooded tops ban
John Prescott
Mr Prescott says he did not mean to look miserable
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has backed the shopping centre which has outlawed hooded tops and baseball caps.

The move at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent is part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

Mr Prescott said hoods were part of an "intimidating" uniform and said he had nearly fallen foul of "happy slapping", where attacks on passers-by are filmed.

His comments are significant as his department will be in charge of a drive for more "respect" in communities.

Intimidation

Managers at Bluewater have drawn up a code of conduct for the centre and people contravening it will be asked to leave the complex.

Hoods are intimidating and I rather welcome what they have done there at Bluewater
John Prescott

Guidelines say intimidating behaviour by groups or individuals, anti-social behaviour including swearing, and wearing clothing which deliberately obscures the face such as hooded tops and baseball caps, will not be allowed.

Mr Prescott said his personal experience made him agree with the move.

"I went to a motorway cafe about a year ago and some kid said something to me," he said.

"I said 'what did you say?' and he came back with 10 people with hoods, you know, these fellas with hoods on.

"He came at me in a very intimidating manner but, of course, I now have security control. They appeared and they vanished.

"But what struck me about it is not only did they come with these kind of uniform, as it is, but they came with a kind of movie camera to take a film of any such incident.

"I found that very alarming. I think the fact you go around with these hats and these covers... I mean, it is a uniform, in a sense.

"It is intimidating and I rather welcome what they have done there at Bluewater."

Miserable face

Mr Blair announced in his reshuffle last week that David Miliband would concentrate on the issue of respect while working in Mr Prescott's department.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Brits can survive the Blitz but find hoods intimidating?
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It has been suggested that there would be a whole new department for communities and that Mr Prescott had fought off the idea.

Some newspapers claimed Mr Prescott looked miserable when the Cabinet reshuffle was under way last week but he insisted that was his "normal face".

He said: "One of the problems for me is that I've got a face that falls into a miserable looking face.

"So when I walk out of anywhere they say 'Oh, Prescott's looking miserable, something terrible must have happened.' Absolute rubbish."


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