Saturday, 18 December 2010

Private Enterprise Petit-Police at Union Square

Yesterday, I was obliged by the imperatives of the season to do some Christmas shopping in Aberdeen's controversial Union Square shopping centre, which we've mentioned before.

It was a beautiful day, and the town was looking about as festive as it's possible to imagine Aberdeen looking; the snow lying generous and soft on roofs and boughs. I allowed myself the luxury of beginning to feel all lovely and Christmassy, full of goodwill to all men and such. That was my first mistake.

We've mentioned before that the top-deck of the Union Square multi-storey car-park is an interesting place where stunning panoramic views of the harbour, Torry, Ferryhill and the town centre are there to be enjoyed by anyone with eyes to see. Yesterday the freezing temperatures had cleared all the water vapour from the air, and the visibility was amazingly crisp and sharp. Realising that I'd not had any lunch, I bought a turkey & stuffing sandwich and a Curly-Wurly from Boots and decided to go up and eat them on the top-deck of the car-park. That was my second mistake.

Finishing my sandwiches and Curly-Wurly, and looking around, picking out familiar sky-line landmarks - Nigg Kirk, Ferrhyill House, Talisman House, St Clement's Kirk, Girdleness Lighthouse - I realised that I was completely alone. The top-deck was utterly deserted and silent. A strange feeling. Here, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year on top of the car-park of the most prime piece of retail real estate in the north of Scotland I found solitude, quiet, space, peace and fresh air. I felt liberated. That was my third mistake.

The desertion of the car park in the mid-afternoon early failing light was intriguing; loaded with content. The vacancy itself created a sort of highly-charged negative space, with the broad arching sky above and the white-covered town nestling this vacancy at its heart. I took a few photos, which I thought might be good for 'edgewatch'. That was my fourth mistake.



Amongst the photos I took was this one. That was my fifth mistake.

Who knew? That black hemisphere is a security camera.
Watching me as I took this photo.
After a few minutes and as I went to leave, a figure strode towards me across the deserted and snow-dusted concrete plain. As I drew closer and greeted him "hello there, what a spectacular afternoon!", I noticed that he was wearing a uniform. A smart-casual one, but in the ubiquitous polyester of the corporate issue paradigm. Oh-o. Then I noticed his two-way radio. Oh-o. Then he obstructed me and demanded to inspect my camera. I politely refused and tried to step around him. He obstructed me again and grabbed my arm. I asked him politely not to touch me, and to his credit he let go. Entering the stairhead, I went to leave. Four security guard petit-police were waiting for me on the landing. They blocked me from going down the stairs. I asked why. The one-in-charge said that he had orders to keep me there until the police arrived. I explained that I had taken photographs of the spectacular location and conditions. He told me that I could "explain that to the police". I asked why the police had been called. He said that they'd "had problems with this sort of thing before".

I was detained at close quarters by these men for about an hour. They refused to tell me what crime they suspected me of committing (one of them mumbled darkly of the Prevention of Terrorism Act), they refused to tell me by what authority they felt they could hold me against my will and they refused to allow me to leave.  Close quarters detention at the hands of private enterprise petit-police; I was, in effect mini-kettled; surrounded by four well-build young men, one of whom continually shouted provocative taunts directly in my face whenever I tried to speak. They threatened to report me for assault if I were to try to push past them. They refused to allow me to use my phone. They prevented me from moving more than ten centimetres in any direction. I asked again what crime they suspected of committing. "You took a photo of a security camera". I asked whether that was a crime. I was shouted at and shouted down. It was affronting and humiliating.

Two Real Police officers arrived. A uniformed constable and a plain-clothes detective, both from the British Transport Police. I was subject to a PNC check, and the contents of my camera were inspected. I know that I would probably have been within my rights to refuse, but I had done nothing wrong; I had nothing to fear. The police confirmed this fact more-or-less immediately. While the uniformed officer was doing the PNC check I had a pleasant chat with the plain-clothes officer about alienation in the urban environment and the fascinating aesthetic appeal of certain aspects of functional urban space. It took a little while - he thought my taste was "weird" (he liked the Christmas-card-like photos I'd taken of Ferryhill's Marine Place - but initially couldn't see the appeal of the stark carparkscapes of Union Square) but eventually he 'got' it. He confirmed that I had done nothing wrong, and that I should complain to Union Square management about my treatment by the Security Guards. I probably can't be bothered doing that. Maybe I'll sent them a link to this post.

In the past, I've mentioned the 'Field Guide to Military Urbanism' blog. The blog mostly refers to urban situations in war zones, siege areas, divided communities and the like - but these words are pertinent to us, now, here:
[The] contemporary city is defined by a kind of de facto psychopathology that is embodied in the very spaces and architectural rationales that order urbanization today, from gated communities to urban surveillance landscapes, to the last dying refuges of public space that have been [will be?] overwhelmed by privatization and a complete hyper securitization of the built environment at all scales.
One might ask... what is the current diagnosis and mental health state of western democracy? Or, how can the city be viewed as an architectural weapon to enforce behavior, to mandate neo-liberalism in a way, to turn a population into an obedient supporter of rampant commerce? What are the inherent narratives of power that run through spatial constructs like maximum-security prisons, shopping malls, refugee camps, suburban sprawl, and the hardened borderzones between nation-states? Is there a psychopathological connection between them? Is there a new urban archetype here to be deconstructed?
We feel that these private security petit-police who reckon that - through the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act - they've been invested with special circumstances empowerment to behave as they please are typical of the sort of psychopathology which is being referred to by the Field Guide. While I was enjoying space and air, quiet and peace in the outside chill, I was being spied upon by eyes belonging to people sitting in a hot windowless dark room. These people do not, cannot or will not conceive that such things are valid sources of enjoyment in the context of an urban space which is intended as a retail hot-house. I was in a car-park, but I was not treating it as such; I was treating it as open space - space for living. I was being, not buying.

I was aware, of course that I was subject to surveillance - as we are at all times and in all spaces in any  town centre. Yet when I was perceived to be sousveilling the surveillance mechanism I was detained and questioned. Why is it that when our image is captured by machines and people we cannot see, we feel that's OK - yet, when photos are taken of inanimate objects by a cheerful man who is obviously visible in plain view, this requires a response with overwhelming force?

My behaviour, as confirmed by the Real Police, was perfectly legal. I was committing no offence, I was harming no-one and no thing. Yet the private security operators of the shopping centre regard my behaviour as aberrant ("we've had problems with this sort of thing before"), a "problem", something to be stamped out. 

The surveillance state was sold to us with the assurance: "If you're doing nothing wrong - then you've nothing to fear." We are not surprised that this statement has drifited into meaning "if you've done nothing outwith our arbitrarily-set code of conforming behaviour - then you've nothing to fear. Until our own paranoia and fear dictates that we arbitrarily change the rules." 

51 comments:

ruddy_rutherford said...

you should complain to the center's management. I was once in charge of security in Boots within the Bon Accord Center and if any of my security guards did this I'd be livid.

They will keep doing this until someone makes a stand. Give the next photographer an easier time by speaking up.

John Aberdein said...

Object Snapped by Cheerful Man – Exclusive

Painstakingly noted & powerfully analysed, Alan!

Suspicion is visited also on those who make notes. The only place where I have felt welcome making poetic images in a notebook is on a red suspension bridge in mountain Taiwan. There an old couple swayed up to me and looked approvingly over my elbow: making black marks on white paper is/was a venerated Chinese way of responding to landscape.

Alex Mitchell said...

As you say Alan, guilty of being, not buying! Behaviour of the petit-polis is seriously concerning.

Anonymous said...

Passed onto union square management, sounds like over zealous security to me.

nicky fraser said...

Extreme behaviour by the security staff! The way you describe the event makes it sound like they were extremely intimidating. I'd be interested to hear the outcome of this.

Pauline Randall said...

Excellent post but appalling situation. I imagine that would have been very frightening. Although they have never done anything to me I find these 'petit-police' to be very disturbing. I hope you have reported this to the Centre Management - until they start to get some bad press about this there won't be much incentive to change although I would hope that the Police would have spoken to them about this too.

As regards the photos - fabulous! I love urban landscapes :)

Anonymous said...

Utterly unacceptable behaviour by petit-police. But are we surprised. Well done for posting it - better than wasting your time complaining and getting nowhere

Anonymous said...

Bearing in mind the current heightened terrorism threat to the country any one who appear to be suspicious and is taking photographs in an area of high public attendance or any transport structures is going to be subject to checks by the police. I know it seems obtrusive and the "moral brigade" will harp on but if you knew what I know, sadly resticted information that I can't reveal, then you really wouldn't complain about an inconvenience like this. As you say, if you are innocent then you have nothing to fear by being checked.

misssy m said...

Not right at all. I have to disagree with Anon there- he was manhandled. This is wholly unacceptable. And what is wrong with being "moral" anyway?

I remember when taking photos of things and having uniformed men appear only used to happen in Eastern Bloc countries in the 70s and 80s. What the blazes is going on? This is the UK. not USSR. Something has gone very very wrong that this sort of thing happens in ABZ.

Anonymous said...

i was taking photos of some traffic lights with icicles hanging off them last night. a police car pulled up by me and i thought 'here we go...' but when i looked in they were just laughing at me crouching in a big pile of snow and slurry. :D

Anonymous said...

I once used the "family room" instead of the "normal toilet" in union square and mid way through my business the security knocked on the door and said "do you need a hand?" i replied "why would i need a hand in the bathroom?" they then demanded i open the door. when i finished i got up and opened the door and they told me i was not supposed to be in there. The family room consists of a toilet and a sink in a room. how is this different to the normal toilet?

very rude security. It's not like it was the disabled toilet.

I reckon their just bored bullies

sisterraysaid said...

on a lighter note the cluster of petit polis you attracted enabled some shop lifters to get on with robbing not buying.

Anonymous said...

Please let them know on their facebook page which has a lot of traffic: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Union-Square-Aberdeen/225378999114

Anonymous said...

I say we do a flash mob and all start taking photos of their security cameras.

It'll be funny watching a bunch of morons running around like headless chickens.

I do understand what Anon said, but they had no right to treat you how they did.

A simple, explanation of "We think you might be a terrorist, would you mind waiting until the police arrive so they can check you out" if at that point you tried to run sure, hold you down, but if you comply then nothing to worry about...

Anonymous said...

Union Square are deleting any comments about this off the facebook page (guess they have 'hiding their head in the sand' as a social media strategy)

Anonymous said...

"Bearing in mind the current heightened terrorism threat to the country any one who appear to be suspicious and is taking photographs in an area of high public attendance or any transport structures is going to be subject to checks by the police. I know it seems obtrusive and the "moral brigade" will harp on but if you knew what I know, sadly resticted information that I can't reveal, then you really wouldn't complain about an inconvenience like this. As you say, if you are innocent then you have nothing to fear by being checked."

Well done for not revealing anything about the nature of your "restriced information" or how you've come by it.

Well done for also misunderstanding "being checked" and being taken prisoner"

And if I was planning something naughty, I'd be looking at the architectural plans rather than taking artistic photos on the roof.

Anonymous said...

This whole 'you might be a terrorist' nonsense is not acceptable, it's an excuse for jobsworths to act far beyond their lawful civil powers and condemn people as guilty with no evidence whatsoever.

The fact is that anybody in the UK is 10,000,000 times more likely to die of ill health, a traffic accident or a 1000 other mundane causes rather than a terrorist outrage, so it's a pathetic excuse for over the top aggressive behaviour.

It's also a fact that the police under section 44 may have the power to stop and search where reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity is shown (and no, taking photos in itself out with a prescribed prohibited security area is not sufficient cause) and can neither force you to show or delete your images.

These powers don't extend to security guards, who while they have the right to ask you to leave private property, cannot detain you.

Pete Smith said...

Absolutely outrageous. These guys would have a fight on their hands if they tried that stunt with most Aberdonians including me. Unacceptable behaviour like this should be challenged.

A A Gruntpuddock said...

Sounds like a case of illegal imprisonment.

Anonymous said...

I think you would have more joy writing (or emailing) to apple at USquare, saying you was on the way 2 do some xmas shopping within the apple store, after enjoying your lunch and "being creative" with the wonderful surrounding that the store is situated. Is this how apple would like "creative" customers be treated?.. Money talks not one off letters to management! sad but true. Apple is a huge huge customer to USquare and i believe they could enlighten the security staff via the correct channel, just how wrong this is!!

Anonymous said...

The only people that can demand to see or remove you memory card are the police and further more an assault has occurred if you lay a 'soft finger' on anyone so you would therefore be within your rights to accuse security of assault! Too many jobs worths who do not actually know the law but react to specific regulations from a tie clad desk man!

On the other hand they are trying to help their insurance costs by keeping there consumers safe!! So they say.

Anonymous said...

"Well done for not revealing anything about the nature of your "restriced information" or how you've come by it."

I work for the police and you need only to look at the news of the raids in the press today to get an idea of what I was getting at.

I love these photo blogs and don't want to discourage anyone from taking good photo's. I do not agree with the way the security boys acted but do think that it was right the police were called an checked everything was ok.

We all need to be vigilant for any potential terror threats and any suspicious behaviour. As stated previously people taking pictures of large public areas, infrastructure and security measures will look a bit suspicious and will probably have a run in with the police at some point.

Anonymous said...

I find it very hard to believe that the union sqaure security acted in this manor. Its also very easy to make someone agree with you in a blog and defrom the character of staff who work 12 hour shifts to help people in many ways in the centre.

Calum said...

Sounds like one for the good chaps at Amateur Photographer, http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/contact/

Anonymous said...

"but do think that it was right the police were called an checked everything was ok.

We all need to be vigilant for any potential terror threats and any suspicious behaviour. As stated previously people taking pictures of large public areas, infrastructure and security measures will look a bit suspicious and will probably have a run in with the police at some point."

GOOGLE MAPS!!! Police should survive the law NOT MAKE IT... don't phone the police nothing illegal happened, its only a camera!!!

Anonymous said...

oops.... serve

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, what camera were you using? A DSLR?

Being ex-forces, I can't really say that, the whole terror excuse is any sort of justification for this sort of thing... I've had to do my fair share of guard duties, and one thing that you are taught, is to use some common sense. I certainly don't think that this was done in this case.

Lets face it, a terrifying terrorist, is not just going to whip out a big-F-O-Camera to take pictures of the security cameras. Fact. because something like that might happen. believe it or not, Joe terrorist is not that thick...

So to come down all heavy handed like that, really?

sadly, this is just down to the poorly trained(if at all?) and cheap-cheap security rent-a-guard...

Seriously, if they were calling the police, then they should have just told them where you had gone, rather than detaining you.

Oh, and hello to the Union Square management!

"I find it very hard to believe that the union sqaure security acted in this manor. Its also very easy to make someone agree with you in a blog and defrom the character of staff who work 12 hour shifts to help people in many ways in the centre. "

besides, it's not union square? It's rent-a-guard isn't it?

AlanM said...

The most these petit-police are allowed to do is ask you to stop taking photos and leave. They have no right to ask to examine any of your possesions or prevent you from leaving, in fact in preventing you from leaving in the manner they did you could claim a 'breach of the peace' had been committed as they placed you 'in a state of fear or alarm'.

David Clark said...

I say we do a flash mob and all start taking photos of their security cameras. It'll be funny watching a bunch of morons running around like headless chickens

EXCELLENT - love to do this!

I have read of this happening down in London - never thought anyone would be this daft in Aberdeen. Lets hope the press pick up the story!

david Clark said...

Can I suggest that you contact the center and demand copies of their CCTV tapes involving this - as under the data protection act them must comply - and charge you no more than £10.
Would make interesting viewing....

Jason Baxter said...

I'm a Cityscape/Landscape Panoramic photographer and think this is utterly appalling behaviour; this guy deserves a very public apology, he did nothing wrong...
I've just found Union Square on Twitter and have asked them if an apology is forthcoming!...lets bombard their social networking and 'hound' them, see how they like it.
@UnionSqAberdeen
JB

Other Aberdeen said...

Thanks to all contributers, but particularly to the Anonymous poster who says that he works for the police. In the body of the post Alan re-iterated the "Subtopia - Urbanization of Panic" question:

One might ask... what is the current diagnosis and mental health state of western democracy? Or, how can the city be viewed as an architectural weapon to enforce behavior, to mandate neo-liberalism in a way, to turn a population into an obedient supporter of rampant commerce? What are the inherent narratives of power that run through spatial constructs like maximum-security prisons, shopping malls, refugee camps, suburban sprawl, and the hardened borderzones between nation-states? Is there a psychopathological connection between them? Is there a new urban archetype here to be deconstructed?

Our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee comes very close to answering these questions. Firstly, he alludes gloweringly to dark forces offstage:

...if you knew what I know, sadly resticted information that I can't reveal, then you really wouldn't complain about an inconvenience like this.

We were utterly astonished that Alan's frightening, intimidating and humiliating experience should be unilaterally re-written by this Anonymous Civilian Police Employee as merely an "inconvenience". Let's be absolutely clear: the fact of being taken prisoner by civilians with no power of arrest; of being shouted at and manhandled by young men, is no "inconvenience", it is terrifying. It is an affront.

By spinning Alan's ordeal as a mere "inconvenience" in service of some imagined and alluded to greater good, our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee teaches us a great deal about the mindset of those who, like him, work within the security apparatus which surrounds us and the narratives they spin for themselves in order to rationalise their actions and will-to-power. For that we thank him. Fascinating.

Other Aberdeen said...

Our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee continues later:

...people taking pictures of large public areas, infrastructure and security measures will look a bit suspicious and will probably have a run in with the police at some point.

Firstly, it is enlightening that the narrative of paranoid frightened Britan which our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee spins for himself (or re-tells slavishly) requires all photography in all town centres to be regarded as "suspicious". We have lots of photos of pubic areas. We have lots of photos of infrastructure. Today, it is not possible to capture images of public areas or infrastructure without also incidentally including the "security measures" - so ubiquitous have they become. Our intent is far from malign, quite the reverse - as stated on the header of our blog. Why, then, is photography regarded ipso facto as "suspicious"? We would say, rather, that blanket surveillance is suspicious, as it is an enabler for the type of behaviour to which Alan was subjected and it is a force multiplier for the type of people who revel in exercising power over others, regardless of their, judgement, ability, skill or level of training in exercising that power responsibly.

Secondly, our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee is quite wrong to characterise this episode as a "run in with the police". When the Real Police arrived they treated Alan with great respect and courtesy. In contrast to the petit-police, they were polite, mature, centred, even-handed and charming, even. No, indeed, there was no "run in with the police". There was a run-in with some over-self-empowered petit-police. The fact that our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee has difficulty in telling the difference is illuminating. In his paranoid fever-dream of a security state where all are either malicious or suspects or goodguys, there's no distinction between the Real Police and the petit-police. We reckon he can't tell the difference because, in fact, our Anonymous Civilian Police Employee is a type of petit-police himself, who fantasises about the power and privilege of one day being Real Police, as do they all.

We should be thankful that these people do not have the full power and privileges of Real Police, who have many checks and balances designed to mitigate the will-to-power exhibited so often by petit-police. But we have to be vigilant, it is these petit-police, with their hands on the joysticks of the CCTV controllers, who are at the cutting edge of the erosion of our liberties, who are the readiest to re-iterate the narratives which provide excuses for their intrusive operation of the Panopticon which our modern town centres have become.

A cliche from Bejamin Franklin:
"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."

Anonymous said...

If I was a terrorist and wanted to recce a scene would I a. wander casually and unobtrusively with a good quality camera phone and a grinning mate or b. set up my tripod and large DSLR and make myself very obvious?

Bit of a no-brainer don't you think?

Christine Coutts said...

I like the idea of a mass of folk all turning up on the car park and taking photos, I'll join you for that one!

Anonymous said...

1. Sorry to hear about that; deeply unpleasant.
2. I urge you to complain to the Centre, and any of the large stores within in. The only way this will change is if there is a documented history of this kind of harassment. As other posters have pointed out, this will help other photographers.
3. Flash mob of photographers sounds great!
Laura, Aberdeen

Jenny Hood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Em-sea said...

Only just picked up on this post thanks to AberdeenCity on Twitter.

I find the behaviour described in the blog post utterly ridiculous and those who attempt to justify the behaviour within the comments to be equally ridiculous.

I've never been keen on the centre and I'm even less keen on it now.

Gary Stewart said...

Disgraceful behaviour by Union Squares hired thugs. I'd have liked to have seem them attempt to stop you from using your mobile phone. If they were using some utter nonsense about pushing passed them being assault you would have been more than able to reverse the charge on them if they physically impeded you from using your mobile. If they were going to come it with spurious threats then I would have just told them I was going to get them charged with illegal and false imprisonment, being held against your will with no explanation. These hobby bobby's need sorted out and made to realize they are not actually "the law" and they are not allowed to make it up either.

I posted a comment on their Twitter account.

@UnionSqAberdeen Have you stopped hiring thugs and denying people the ability to go about their business yet? http://tinyurl.com/6f24bzo

Anonymous said...

Just posted this on my Facebook - thought you might be interested.

"Interesting encounter this afternoon.

Had been for a meal in Yo Sushi with my sister and her two daughters (aged about six and seven I think). Afterwards one of them wanted to go on that trampoline / bungee rope thing in the main court. The child was happily springing up and down when one of the security guards approached us, pointed at a Japanese tourist taking photos, and asked if he was with us.

We had never seen him before, so said no - at which they went over to him and demanded that he stopped taking photographs and leave.

My sister wasn't pleased with this and told the security guard that she was perfectly happy for him to take photographs if her children were fully closed and going about their normal activities, and felt the fact there was a problem with this was indicative of a sickness in society where everybody is under constant suspicion of being a paedophile.

Next up, the other Union Square person in charge of the trampolines got launched into a rather heated and patronizing flow - saying 'yes, they're fully clothed ... but what if he uses Photoshop to take your child's face and superimpose it onto a naked child's body" then he finished with "do you know how computers work?" - this was funny considering my sister did a post grad in computer programming and was a vice president at Deutsche Bank, working with computer security.

The first security guard went on to ask how she'd feel if she switched on her computer and was confronted by such a photograph - to which she replied that she wouldn't be seeing that on her computer because she wouldn't be looking for that sort of thing, and had filters to block it anyway. He then went on to say they had the same dangers when it came to people photographing the Union Square security cameras ... the photographer could be planning to blow up Union Square - or be a suicide bomber. My sister asked if they thought the tourist taking photos of her daughter was a suicide bomber? They said that you could never tell, he was ex-military, and these people are experts at covering their identity and could be wearing suits or anything.

By this point my sister was fairly openly laughing at them, and the security guards were pretty much shouting at her, while her daughter bounced away on her £5 trampoline session. At the end she just told them their policies were sick, and said that they had better be wary of her daughter when she put her mask and cloak back on (she was dressed as Batman) in case she was a plotting to blow up Union Square herself.

I didn't get involved in this argument myself, but must say it was quite amazing that my sister had to endure being shouted at and patronized by two knuckleheads while paying for her daughter to have five minutes of trampoline fun.

If anybody bothered reading this far, do you think the security guards were in the right?"

Other Aberdeen said...

"Do you think the security guards were in the right?"
Heh.

Thanks, Anonymous @ 10 February 2011 17.59, for posting your story.
Clearly, these ex-military security guards believe themselves to be in the right. Union Square is their domain, and they protect those who come there.

Even a small risk is still a risk, so it's better safe than sorry. Everyone knows that them sick pediatricians always go about their sick perversion in public, and always prey on children who're accompanied by family members. Similarly everyone knows that those suicide bombers are somehow associated with Japan, where the cult of the kamakazi was invented after all - coincidence? I don't think so!

Anyhow, these pedos and suicide bombers aren't a match for the guys on our side, thank god! Those who wish to harm us in Union Square are so stupid they always telegraph their intentions by ostentatiously making obsessively extensive and slightly arty photographic surveys of their targets. The fools - they keep giving the game away! No wonder none of them have yet succeeded in their aim of bringing down the West by destroying Union Square! For, make no mistake, that is what they intend - nothing short of the destruction of our civilisation by striking at Aberdeen's newest generic shopping centre, which is the lynchpin of all Western commercial activity.

But with this incident we see the rise of a new and highly insidious threat to our comfortable western consumerist way of life - yes, the paedophile suicide bomber! The filthy b@stards!

It all adds up -
children + Japanese people + camera...
= Pedo suicide bomber
DEFCON 1. !!!

So we should congratulate these security operatives on their absolutism; stamping down on any aberrant behaviour keeps us all safe from these murderous suicidal foreign perverts. And it's better safe than sorry! We should be heartened that our operatives (our boys!) have a military background; perhaps they were posted to conflict hot-spots where Taliban and Al Qaeda IED's sharpened their hair-trigger reflexes.

It can't have been easy for these heroes, but we're benefitting from their sacrifice as we go about our innocent lives of consequence-free consumption. Is not consumer choice in free markets the one true freedom? Isn't that what we're still fighting for in Afganistan? Isn't that what we've achived in Iraq? Now, with the return of these heroes to their native soil, the front line has come home with them as they take up these jobs in our shopping centres which are the 'bastions' of our civilisation.

Some might say that these heros could use a course of counseling to re-integrate them into normal civilian life where threats to life and limb do not lurk around every corner. Some might say that the brutalisation these heroes have suffered ill serves them for public-facing jobs. Some might say that some of these guys are haunted by demons, that the things they have seen and the thoughts which they cannot dispel predispose them to paranoia and overreaction.

But we say: No! Bleeding-heart liberal politically-correct hand-wringingly cringeworthy attempts at 'understanding' these proud veterans only belittles them; emasculates them. These guys are men's men. They don't need namby-pambying mollycoddling. They can handle themselves just fine. The proof of this is that no paedo suicide pervert has yet succeeded in destroying Union Square.

It. Makes. Me. Proud.

Anonymous said...

You should haver asked the real police to charge them with false arrest, which is s serious crime. These thugs have powers of detention, and if they have detained they have committed a crime and you you should have had them charged. A criminal record mean them losing their security industry licence and therefore there job (not to mention a hefty fine or even a spell behind bars. The rest would soon get the message.

Anonymous said...

I was totally on your side until you said I probably can't be bothered complaining to the Union Square Management?!!?!?

Other Aberdeen said...

@Anonymous, 20 February 15:07
We're quite content to use this episode as a source of 'content'. Let it serve as an enlightening story, let it pose the question which still hangs:

One might ask... what is the current diagnosis and mental health state of western democracy? Or, how can the city be viewed as an architectural weapon to enforce behavior, to mandate neo-liberalism in a way, to turn a population into an obedient supporter of rampant commerce? What are the inherent narratives of power that run through spatial constructs like maximum-security prisons, shopping malls, refugee camps, suburban sprawl, and the hardened borderzones between nation-states? Is there a psychopathological connection between them? Is there a new urban archetype here to be deconstructed?

This question was partly answered in the 'update' post at
http://otheraberdeen.blogspot.com/2011/02/private-enterprise-petit-police-at.html

Anonymous said...

There was a similar problem in Edinburgh recently in Multrees Walk, a privately owned street containing the most expensive shops in Edinburgh. A goon stopped a photographer and made al the sandard treats that come from the tiny brains of these idiots, public photography is illegal, Prevention of Terrorism Act. etc. Anyway a flash mob,all with cameras was organised. This was quickly followed by an abject apology from the management for the behaviour of their goons, who they said had exceeded their authority, since their were no rules against photography, and that photographers were welcome. Perhaps the management at Union Square are not aware what their gorillas get up to.

spottiewattie17 said...

Have a look at Operation Kraken at http://www.grampian.police.uk/Advice.aspx?id=460&pid=30;34;17;487. Assistant Chief Constable Bill Gordon said tonight on STV News that anyone taking pictures of bridges may be acting suspiciously and should be reported to the Police. I have emailed the Kraken team to express my dismay ...

David said...

I'd tweeted this early on in the Braehead story from the weekend - and the chap mentioned on the STV news how he had heard of many people had issues - including Aberdeen by name!

If only you'd photographed a cute wee girl having an ice-cream!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was assaulted by a private security contractor, responsible for the building that the Metropolitan Police use (Empress State Building), for taking a photograph.

He held onto me, right into Lily Road, demanding that I give him my mobile phone.

Once I was clearly in the middle of the road, I made such a racket that the real police showed up. A few hours later, they sent a few chaps down, and brought him in for questioning.

It was a minor assault, and as such, the CPS didn't have the time to prosecute it (obviously) but they did give him a slap on the wrist, and put the willies up him. (which was good).

If it were me, I'd demand the CCTV, and then press charges for wrongful arrest, imprisonment, trespass of person and assault, on the individuals involved in the matter.

It's the only way they are going to learn.

Caiptean said...

I have followed this from a link on BBC's Braehead reporting.

At Aberdeen it sounds like you were challenged but then physically assaulted by the first security guard (arm grabbing which should be on CCTV) then unlawfully held by his colleagues - unless they made a citizen's arrest which would be wrongful arrest as taking photographs is not an arrestable offence thus leaving them open to challenge and compensation claims.

I'd like to think these criminal acts were reported to and investigated by the police with charges following .......

Caiptean said...

I have just followed spottiewattie17's link to Grampian Police's Kraken's team.

Firstly Kraken are sea monsters of giant proportions - somewhat appropriate for 'scaring' the public?

Some of their advice isn't incompatible with vigilance but what isn't explained is how to determine context and making a proportionate response. For example is a photographer is interested in shipping or a terrorist.

For some time London Underground has operated CCTV software that alerts staff to 'unusual' public activity. The response is usually a quick look by staff or even an offer of assistance by their station staff. Usually this determines that nothing sinister is taking place and the individual wasn't even aware that they were the centre of attention. In these instances the station staff are fully trained.

Finally as somebody who used to commute on London's riverbus ferry service I found Kraken's "Consecutive round trips on the same ferry" rather disconcerting. Am I now going to be arrested for going to work each day on a ferry?

Other Aberdeen said...

@Caiptean - thanks for your comments re Kraken - check this out:

http://otheraberdeen.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-walk-i-cycle-i-look-i-think-i-am-bad.html