Family Photos, Paedophile Scares and the Stasification of Britain

How Public Fears Drive the Stasification of Britain

No doubt you’re as shocked as I am by the story of the photographer in Scotland questioned by police after taking pictures of his 4-year old daughter eating ice-cream in a shopping mall:

Staff at an ice cream stall in Braehead shopping centre, near Glasgow, became suspicious when they saw Chris White taking pictures of his four-year-old daughter Hazel with his mobile phone at around 4pm on Friday afternoon.

‘He [the security guard] said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was “illegal”… and then asked me to delete the ones I had taken,’ White told Amateur Photographer (AP).

When White said he had already uploaded two images to Facebook, and refused to delete them, the guard called police.

But what’s more depressing is the Braehead Centre’s non-apology apology. (H/T Welsh Toy)

Although Friday’s incident had nothing to do with a potential terrorist attack, the two retail assistants and the member of our security staff were faced with a situation they genuinely thought was suspicious. They witnessed a man taking photographs of a child, unaware that the man and the child were related.

I’m sure people will agree it is better safe than sorry.

Actually, I’m sure most people will agree that Braehead are a bunch of idiots.

You see, most people, when they see a man taking a picture of a child eating an icecream are not going to go: “Yikes! I wonder if that icecream contains Semtex and that camera button is the triggering device.”

Nor are they going to go: “Alert! Alert! Paedophile! That man is DEFINITELY a paedophile.”

What they’re far more like to do, even in this age where paedophiles and suicide bombers are apparently lurking behind every hedge, is think: “Ah. How sweet! There’s a dad taking a picture of his little girl.” Or possibly: “Rather him than me. They’re so much easier when they get a bit older.” Or: “Wish my girl were that age again. God teenagers are a pain!” You know: normal stuff; healthy stuff; sane stuff.

But for how much longer? The overreaction of the security guard – and subsequently of the police – are very much in line with a worrying socio-political trend. I experienced this myself about four years ago when an au pair took some family photos of a recent holiday to Jessops in London’s Strand to get them developed.

Next thing I knew I got a call from the Jessops branch manager.

“Are those your photos?” he asked, with a certain officious menace.

“Yes,” I said. “What’s the problem.”

“Well I’m afraid we’re unable to develop them. They contain inappropriate material.”

“What ARE you on about? Oh God. You mean the pictures of the kids playing nude badminton? Is that it?”

“I can’t go into specifics. But the staff member who had to process them felt uncomfortable. He thought the material was inappropriate.”

“What, you’re worried I’m a paedophile. Is that it?”

“No one’s saying that sir. I’m just saying that we are unable to process your holiday photographs.”

“Because the sight of eight-year olds, in the nude, playing badminton makes one of your staff members uncomfortable and he thinks it’s inappropriate?”

I later established that the Jessops staff member who had complained was an 18-year old male. There was a time when I would have wondered quite how thick or pervily overimaginative an 18-year old you’d have to be to read something sinister into a bunch of very obviously normal family photographs, just some of which happened show kids having fun with no clothes on. But not any more.

As a culture we’re now so paedophile-obsessed that when my kids sing the song that used to go “Never smile at a crocodile” they now sing “Never smile at a paedophile”. And when I hug and kiss them they sometimes call me a perv.

But even worse than this contemporary variant on 17th-century witchfinding is the jobsworthery and officiousness by which its absurdities are entrenched.

The only sensible, decent and right response of that the Jessops manager would have been a) to apologise profusely to the offended customer (who needless to say hasn’t used their services since) and b) to take the “offended” junior staff member aside for a quiet word to tell him to use his noddle in future.

The only sensible, decent and right response of the appalling Braehead shopping centre would have been a) a similar profuse apology to the photographer for the embarrassment and inconvenience (possibly with a gift voucher for Fried-Mars-Bar-U-Like or similar) and b) a quiet word with the security guard for having been such a heavy-handed, thick-skinned prat, and for bringing the name of BRAEHEAD SHOPPING CENTRE IN GLASGOW into disrepute.

Neither happened. This is how the Stasi gained such control over Soviet-bloc-era East Germany: thanks to the compliance of its many useful idiots in the broader society.


The Numpties have caved in. (H/T Pingu)

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4 thoughts on “Family photos, paedophile scares and the Stasification of Britain”

  1. Amr Marzouk says:11th October 2011 at 7:56 amThis happened to me 3 yrs ago in a shopping mall in Sydney but the guard left when my step- granddaughter(age 6 at the time) said “Come in Amr take the photo before the rocking horse stops moving”
    Amr Marzouk
    Manly Beach Australia
    PS when are you arriving in Australia
  2. James Delingpole says:11th October 2011 at 10:04 amI’m coming in January, now, Amr.
  3. James McComb says:11th October 2011 at 11:03 amHeads they win, tails you lose.Here on the Isle of Wight, we have the mainland’s ‘Hampshire police force’, to tell us right from wrong. They ingratiate themselves by claiming to be the ‘Isle of Wight police force’; and they sweeten the lie when inducing children to their perverse politics:

    Thus it is a HATE crime to scrutinize the gender or sexual orientation of another, whilst being de rigueur to presume the guilt of Wightmen- ‘better safe than sorry’.

    It should be noted that for the very rare occasions of ‘paedophilia’, it is usually committed by pederasts; a name that stretches back centuries. The Marxist-Feminist cultural subversives, have introduced the modern term of ‘paedophilia’, in order to smear the evolutionary innocence of fatherhood, so as to replace the family by the state’s bureaucracy, as witnessed by the ballooning of numbers of children farmed off into nurseries, or even taken forcibly into state care – ‘better safe than sorry’.

    In light of what I have said, it follows as a hate crime to point out: that there is a disproportionate number of homosexuals in positions of management in both the police force, and social services – ‘forewarned is forearmed’.

  4. John Fourie says:20th October 2011 at 11:12 pmJust came to your website to say that you are the lowest form of life. Lying and over exaggerating without even understanding the basics. Dont read anything this man says people he only wants you to go to his website to get some click, he is what we call an internet troll and does not deserve a second of your time. Please die so that the world can be a better place.

Comments are closed.

Do the Conservatives Think We’re All Paedophiles Too?

The reason I ask is that I’ve just been reading the Conservatives’ latest report – Reversing The Rise of the Surveillance State. It makes all sorts of splendid and thoroughly worthwhile proposals such as scrapping the National Identity Register and restricting council access to personal communications data.

But what I don’t see is any mention of the most unpopular and intrusive surveillance legislation so far introduced by our Stasi state: the Government’s vetting organisation – the Independent Safeguarding Authority – which seems to imagine that all adults who work with children must perforce be paedophiles, unless they have been able to prove otherwise by filling out lots of tedious forms, waiting a very long time to work their way through the bureaucratic process and forking out £64 quid for the privilege.

As Professor Frank Furedi and children’s author Philip Pullman have argued, this barmy legislation –  the Government’s knee jerk response to the killing of two schoolgirls by a caretaker (from another school: so not even someone known to them) in Soham – serves to “poison” the relationship between the generations. Not only does it put off adults from volunteering to work with organisations like the Scouts and render routine activities – like ferrying other people’s kids to sporting events – needlessly complicated, but it sends out the message that any adult who lays a finger on a child for whatever reason (if they’ve fallen over and cut their knee in the park, say) is most likely an evil kiddie-fiddler.

Launching his document Dominic Grieve, the Tory Shadow Justice Minister, acknowledged some of this when he said:

We cannot eliminate the need for human judgment calls on risk, whether to children, or from criminal and terrorist threats. And we can never eliminate all risk, it is part and parcel of ordinary life.

Exactly. All commonsense, soundly libertarian stuff.

He goes on to propose a Conservative response based on five central principles:

Fewer mammoth databases, that are better run.
Fewer personal details held by the state, stored accurately and on a need-to-know basis.
Greater checks and personal control over the sharing of our data by government.
And stronger duties on government to keep our private information safe.

Again, all fine. But then just towards the end, he slips in a weasellish phrase which calls into question everything he has promised before:

“We are not looking to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But we do want to re-calibrate the relationship between the citizen and the state.”

It’s precisely this kind of temporising which we natural Conservatives find so utterly maddening about Dave Cameron’s pretend ones. They seem to want to have everything both ways: on the one hand we’re going to do this, on the other hand we’re not going to do it in so drastic a way that anyone who might potentially disagree with the change will find anything to which they can object.

The Independent Safeguard Authority and its vetting procedures – which require fully one quarter of the adult population to be snooped on before they can work with children – are a barn door sized target.

Will the Tories promise to do something about it – or do they too share New Labour’s view that every adult is a likely paedo?

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