Archive for the ‘State of the Nation’ Category

Innocent Photographer Held by Over-zealous Security Guards

In Broken Britain, Government, State of the Nation, Uncategorized on 24 February 2011 at 10:28

A letter sent by Simon St Clare to the Milton Keynes Citizen

I am a keen photographer and I regularly travel to CMK to watch films in Cineworld in Xscape. In the afternoon on Monday 7 Feb prior to watching a film I was ‘arrested’ by two of the Xscape security staff for taking photos of the outside of the building. I had just spent a while taking photos of the derelict part of The Food Hall and then I strolled over to Xscape where I took a few photos of part of the Xscape building. I had only been there for two minutes when I was approached by a security guard. He questioned me on my actions and I think he asked me to leave the area. I refused to leave the area and said I had the right to take photos in a public place. I thought it was reasonable to assume I was in a public place and my normal rights still applied.

A second security guard approached us and he stood behind me – which I thought was strange. I was then told that Xscape was a privately-owned building and I needed special permission to photograph it. They said it was both illegal and against Xscape company policy for the building to be photographed without permission. They then threatened to call the police if I did not leave the area. I thought it was reasonable to assume I was outdoors in a public place and any specifics regarding a company policy did not apply – afterall it wasn’t as if I was inside the building or in a nightclub or restaurant. I invited the security to call the police as I suspected they were being over-zealous and I hoped the police would confirm this and put them in their place.

We stood there outside in the cold waiting for the police to come along to let us know who’s right or wrong. After a couple of minutes I wanted to walk away (my plan was to go to see a film in Cineworld) but both guards stepped forwards and placed their hands on my arms. They told me I couldn’t go until the police arrived. I asked them if they would restrain me if I tried to go and they said they would.

Just after that I noticed one of the guards was not wearing an SIA  (Security Industry Authority) badge –I thought a badge number was meant to be on display so that it was easier for them to be held accountable. I asked the guard if he had an SIA badge and he replied “Who are you to ask me that?”. he then said something along the lines of ‘A f***ing judge or a magistrate can ask me that but you can’t.

The image Mr St Clare took at Milton Keynes

I estimate it took the police ten to fifteen minutes to arrive. When they came they asked me some questions, took my details and then let me go. They were very polite and reasonable, they said I had done nothing wrong and that Xscape should have some signs on prominent display if they wanted to prevent photography outside the building. They recommended I complain to the Xscape management about the situation.

A few minutes after the police had left I spoke to the manager of the Xscape security to complain about the situation-specifically about the guard who swore at me and although he apologised, one of the things he said was to the extent of : some of their staff are direct in the way that they speak and deal with situations -they are, therefore, more suited to working later in the day when there are rowdy drunk people to be dealt with. On this occasion, he explained, one member of staff had ended up working earlier in the day than usual.

I’ve taken many photos in public places around MK and I never take photos that invade privacy. I have found that security guards often want photographers to go away –even if they have the right to take photos in a certain area. I accept that if I am approached and questioned by the police when I am near a shopping centre their intention is to protect the public. When I was approached by these guards I could not understand how what I was doing could be seen as wrong or illegal. From the moment they approached me I felt as though they were on the offensive, they were not polite and they treated me like a suspected criminal instead of treating me like a customer of the Xscape building.

Related article that appeared on Amateur Photographer web page

Follow up article on Amateur Photographer web page

Broken Britain is Progressing

In Books, Books by Robert Bluffield, Broken Britain, Government, Politics, Social History, State of the Nation on 2 November 2010 at 17:55

Although the nation may not be showing too many signs of progressing, the same cannot be said for my new book.

Following the success of ‘Imperial Airways: The Birth of the British Airline Industry 1914-1940′ published in October 2010 by Ian Allan, this time I have altered track to write about another of my interests; politics in a social history context. The new book currently has a working title ‘BROKEN BRITAIN IN THE 21st CENTURY – The First Decade’ although this may subsequently change. The manuscript is well on the way to completion and I will soon be looking for an agent to assist me with finding a suitable publisher.

I have also launched a brand new blog to solicit comments on subjects readers may feel should be discussed in the book.  I do hope you will join me in discussing the major issues such as the NHS, the running of the railways, criminal justice, education, defence as well as some of the minor irritations that are affecting our lives.

Is British Telecom’s Customer Service the Worst in the Country?

In British Telecom, State of the Nation on 27 July 2010 at 17:35

Why is the Customer Services function at BT so incapable of responding to basic customer complaints? I guess it is because they are too large, too impersonal and really aren’t interested in their customers. After all, they will always retain the upper hand and will cut you off if you refuse to pay charges that you do not accept as genuine.

These days I seldom visit my office as I have no need unless I am meeting with a client. But as face-to-face meetings  have become less likely I tend to use the telephone or emails because it is usually more convenient for all concerned.  I opted a long time ago to use BT’s Call Diversion feature to re-direct my incoming calls to my answer service.  Six months ago I reviewed the number of calls I was being charged by BT against those that had been electronically logged by my answer service. Should I have been surprised that the totals were wildly different?  My ‘service’ had logged 68 incoming calls; BT had charged me for 304! It appears that something is quite wrong somewhere although BT has, thus far, refused to discuss the matter.  Naturally errors always seem to be in BT’s favour and although the cost involved wasn’t that much it is the principle that matters. Read the rest of this entry »

We Must Give the Alliance a Chance

In Government, Politics, Social History, State of the Nation on 14 May 2010 at 08:49

The coalition between David Cameron and Nick Clegg may not be what everyone wants but under the circumstances of a hung parliament it is probably the best alternative to a Conservative government that could not have survived long without a majority. Of course it is a compromise; but so is life in most respects, but if it leads to a better Britain we have to accept this.

I am confident that Cameron and Clegg can make things work but they need to be given the time, the support and the encouragement and party differences must be put aside and the sniping has to stop. They are both young and dynamic leaders and the coalition might just be the right answer to a total reformation of the old system of government that has been dragging us down for so long. Put it this way; if they cannot agree over their different policies they will not make it work and it will be extremely damaging to both parties and the electorate will lose even more confidence in British politics. This is a huge opportunity for reform, but the sceptics should pipe down and give the new government the opportunity to implement the changes that are necessary to start this country back on the road to recovery. We all know that it is going to be tough, but we have to accept this if we are to recover from the dire mess that Labour got us into. It is a moment of truth but I think David and Nick can carry pull it off, providing they have the backing of the country. I hope I am not proved wrong.

Clegg Holds the Key

In Broken Britain, Government, Politics, Social History, State of the Nation on 7 May 2010 at 09:40

So, the outcome of the election has been as expected and we are in a hung parliament situation; the first since 1974. This looks unlikely to be helpful to the electorate who, in the main, registered a vote of no confidence in the Labour Government and it emphasises just how ludicrous our electoral system is. I can’t see Gordon Brown wanting to stand down gracefully; it is not in his make-up. One thing for sure is that Nick Clegg is now holding the trump card despite disappointing results for the Liberal Democrats. The key question is whether or not he wants to form a liaison with Labour? The outcome is not an easy one to predict and the talk around Westminster this morning seems to predict another general election sooner rather than later, possibly before the end of the year. Read the rest of this entry »