[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 22:36 GMT
Baseball cap ban for town's youth
Shop sign
About 20 shops in Paisley have signed up to the scheme
Shoppers in Paisley have been banned from entering some retail outlets wearing hoods and baseball caps.

Police said the measure could help them catch or discourage shoplifters who used hats to conceal their faces from CCTV cameras.

About 20 shops have teamed up to launch a "hats off, hoods down" policy with warning signs on show in many windows.

Not all shoppers are happy with the scheme, however and several have accused the shops of discrimination.

The hats off policy has been in place in Paisley for a week and was sparked by a growing retail crime problem.

A number of shops now display signs warning customers: "Please note this store operates a hats off, hoods down policy."

One of the main problems is the identification of shoplifters as most try to conceal their identity by wearing a hooded top or baseball cap
Insp Michael Oates
Strathclyde Police

Strathclyde Police have also stepped up officer patrols in the area over the festive season and officers have been giving advice to shops on how to deal with people wearing either caps or hooded tops.

Area inspector for Paisley, Michael Oates, told BBC Scotland's news website: "Participation by the store is voluntary and will be enforced by the individual shop.

"It only applies while within the shop and not in the street."

He added: "One of the main problems experienced by both shop security and police is the identification of shoplifters as most try to conceal their identity by wearing a hooded top or baseball cap.

"With a view to remedying that, anyone wearing either while visiting shops in Paisley, will be asked to remove the cap or take down the hood when entering the store.

"If they refuse to do so, they will be asked to leave by staff."

Shoppers give their reaction to the baseball cap ban

Paisley's lead has been followed by the owner of Easyinternetcafes - Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of low cost airline Easyjet.

He has put a similar ban in place in his cafes in Glasgow and Edinburgh, claiming the headgear is linked with "deviant" behaviour.

Paisley Town Centre Management Group has backed the ban as a means of tackling shoplifting, which is viewed as a major problem in the town.

A spokeswoman for WH Smith, one of the stores implementing the ban, said: "We continually look at ways to improve crime prevention in stores and among the local community.

"We are therefore supporting the campaign to combat crime in the Paisley area through the 'hats off, hoods down' campaign.

The Paisley Centre
Paisley's indoor shopping centre is welcoming cap wearers

"We believe it will benefit both our store detectives and local police in their work."

A local store manager said: "Seeing the kids in caps and with hoods up can be quite intimidating for shop staff, even if the individuals themselves are completely harmless.

"We've asked a few to remove their headgear and there has never been any problem. Youngsters so far have only been to happy to oblige."

However The Paisley Centre, the town's indoor shopping mall, has adopted the opposite stance.

Andrew MacKinnon, centre manager, said that he had no plans to "discriminate against youngsters on the grounds of fashion".

He said: "I really believe in this instance the kids are being marginalised.

"We have a lot of youngsters wearing baseball caps, and the dreaded hoodies too, hanging out in our centre and there has never been any problem.

Paisley High Street
Most shops adopting the policy are on Paisley High Street

"Being honest, they are not the ones shoplifting or pickpocketing - they're just kids.

"I know other retailers outside the centre have adopted a policy against them but our message is 'come here instead'."

Mr MacKinnon cited personal experience as his reason for backing the capped youth of Paisley.

"I lost my wallet recently in the centre and the group that brought it to the office to return it to me were all wearing hooded tops and baseball caps.

"They were polite, honest and likeable and will always be welcome here."

We asked for your views on the issue. The following represented the balance of opinions we received.

It's rather funny, these shops are saying that only people who wear hoodies or baseball caps are shoplifters. With that in mind wouldn't any self respecting shoplifter wear normal clothes because security will be watching out for anyone in hats? I guess if baseball caps are not allowed then balaclavas are okay, they didn't say anything about them on the signs.
Brian, Finland

Nobody should be served with their hoods up. Even when a biker goes into a garage for fuel (which I am) they are asked to remove their helmet. Anybody in a fit state of mind would do so.
Suze, Aberdeen

I don't see this as any different from banks asking people to remove motorcycle helmets before they enter the building. Motorcyclists don't see this as an implication that anybody who rides a motorcycle is an armed robber. Asking people to expose their faces in a shop is common sense. It's very difficult to help a customer if you can't see their mouth or eyes and their speech is muffled by a hood.
Jo, Cambridge

This is another policy that has some rationale for being created, but will fail in execution. Similar to the 24-hour drinking legislation, where the complex problem cannot be solved by implementing a poor policy or a policy that is flawed to start with. You want to fight crime then control the environment. I suggest that these companies employ more staff for service as a deterrent to the criminal element. Who will move on to easier targets.
Ian, Alberta Canada

In these days of the ozone hole, I've encouraged my children to wear hats whenever they are outside since they were toddlers. It doesn't appear to have resulted in them tagging, wagging or shoplifting so far.
Suz, Auckland, New Zealand

Great...another reason to go to Braehead (apart from the ease of access, free parking and decent shops). The Paisley traders must have a real death wish...they should name this Operation Footbullet.
Derek, Erskine

I am 18 and I understand the ban and hope it works but I have to sympathise with the youths as a lot get singled out and many youths wear hats for a style not to just cover their face up. If I walked into a shop and I was stopped and asked to remove my cap I would be a little angry and embarrassed as I'm only in to buy something, not to steal anything.
Jordan, Dunfermline

This reminds me of the Lanark curfew, which targeted everyone within a specific age-group. As then, many innocents are being criminalised. I can see the thinking behind this one, but it would be better to target known shoplifters with the use of bail orders, asbos and distribution of their photographs.
Paul, Troon

People may argue on about the unfairness of banning baseball caps/hooded tops (and I can certainly agree that it's not tackling the root of the problem), but the reality is that the perceptible minority amongst teenagers who cause trouble in our towns and cities tend to wear a similar "uniform" of tracksuit and trainers with a baseball cap (often in fake Burberry) - therefore that image becomes the focal point of what we know as the "ned". You only have to look at this nationwide - it's not exclusively a Glasgow/West Of Scotland thing... its a stereotype, but all stereotypes are merely an exaggerated version of the truth. Since the stereotype has a reputation for causing trouble, that's what shops, organisations and the police will focus on first. The law-abiding majority will always be penalised due to the actions of the law-breaking minority - whether you believe it's right or wrong, that's a fact. Since there's no clear solution to the problem (its a sad reflection on the general breakdown in society that has taken place in the last 10 years), this type of action will become more commonplace.
Mart, Renfrew

I live in California where my boys (seven and 10) wear their hoodies all the time. They also sometimes where baseball caps which are necessary protection against the sun. When we visit our family in the UK they will be dismayed to learn that they will be considered criminals and not allowed to wear their cute clothes. Do the shop keepers in Paisley think it is only youths who commit crimes? My boys certainly don't. Surely shops can refuse entry to undesirable looking customers rather than making this ridiculous ban. What's wrong with old-fashioned character assessment.
Cherry, California, USA

If people don't like the policies of certain shops or pubs, the mature response is to go elsewhere. Believe it or not, we live in a free market society and being asked not to wear a hat in a shop is no worse than being asked to observe the dress code in a nightclub or bar. I'm fully in support of retailers choosing who to admit to their premises - after all, they are private enterprises and private property, so they have that inalienable right anyway.
Jeff, Darlington

I had always been led to believe that in Scotland it's polite to remove one's head gear on entering a premises and that not doing so was rude.
Niall, Dundee

The town centre management of Paisley would do better to try and encourage some decent stores to come to the town rather than engage in this cheap gimmickry. Paisley Town centre is dying as a shopping area.
Bob, Paisley

Mr MacKinnon, congratulations in your policy of inclusiveness and not exclusiveness. Let these kids celebrate their youth culture in fashion just as every other generation has done. We all know from the changing door policies at pubs and clubs that troublemakers will adapt and do what it takes to get in. by excluding individuals and promoting stereotypical viewpoints we are not tackling the problems. These kids need to be included and in our capitalist/materialist culture that means shops and shopping. Unfortunately we provide them with little else. Maybe we should look at other countries' youth sport and fitness schemes compared to ours and take a judgement on our dwindling successes in international competition?
P. Brooks, Manchester

Take a walk down the high street, any high street, and count the number of people wearing caps, hats and other forms of headgear. It's not just young people, indeed middle aged men and women, OAPs too - wearing hats is part of society, it has been for hundreds of years. If the shops in question feel they have too many customers that they are able to alienate a large percentage of the population, then so be it... but I think they'll find their profits swiftly reduced and this ban will disappear in the not too distant future. Furthermore, this ban is not going to reduce crime, it may even increase it. I'd hazard a guess that people don't shoplift for fun, they shoplift because they need to - whether that be for drug money or other reasons. If these people are unable to shoplift, won't they instead turn to more serious, perhaps violent crime such as house-breaking or assault and robbery ? This has not been thought through by any sensible members of society.
Chris, Glasgow

I am 41 and wear a baseball cap all the time. I get looked at sometimes with suspicion. If I go in a shop and start looking around, chances are some member of staff suddenly decides that aisle needs tarting up. I have been asked to remove it in pubs - I refuse. I get angry, resentful. So I know how it feels for younger people. Immediately because of their headgear they are classed and treated as criminals. This is diabolical. Treat people by their actions not by their headgear. What next? Please shave your beard as it makes you harder to identify on CCTV?
Bruce, Ayr

See reaction to the hats off policy

Internet cafe bans baseball caps
18 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Hoodie goodie for first minister
26 Nov 05 |  Scotland
South: Hoodies and anoraks
12 Nov 05 |  England
'Hoodie' statue provokes outrage
30 Aug 05 |  Scotland
School ban outlaws 'hoodies'
03 Jun 05 |  South East Wales
The war against hats....
22 Sep 04 |  Magazine

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific