Published: 12:48, 16 May 2005
BOSSES at Bluewater have been told that their decision to ban hooded tops and baseball caps at the shopping complex is "blatant discrimination based on stereotypes and prejudices".
The Children's Society has also called the ban a "kneejerk reaction". But Bluewater managers insist the ban is "not "children-specific".
They say the ban is part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour at the retail complex at Greenhithe, near Dartford. Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and his deputy John Prescott has supported the stance on hooded tops.
Under a code of conduct for the centre, people could be asked to leave if they are thought to be engaging in intimidating behaviour - including swearing and wearing clothing which deliberately obscures the face such as hooded tops.
Mr Prescott, interviewed on the Today programme on Radio Four, said he had experienced intimidating behaviour from a group of youths at a motorway service station and as a result, agreed with Bluewater’s steps.
“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 ten 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.”
He went on: “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 at Bluewater.”