It is extremely alarming that more and more of what were once public spaces (after huge battles in the 19th century) are being taken over by private companies who employ their own "police" and make their own "laws".

For example, when carrying out a survey with CABE (Commissioner for Architecture and the Built Environment) just a group of us holding clipboards in the middle of Covent Garden, we were immediately surrounded by a group of private security guards asking what we were up to. Again when photographing a friend outside City Hall with Tower Bridge in the background, More London's private police came and said no photographs were allowed. When shopping in Debenhams last year I was talking to my daughter in her changing cubicle about her prospective purchases when I was rudely told to "move away" – on refusal the assistant apparently called security – 3 young men burst into the women's changing rooms and "arrested" me, dragged me all across the shopfloor and put me in a "cell". I had bruises (documented by my doctor) up my arm for a week. This surely should not be allowed.

I dont think that private companies should be able to make their own laws about what people do and wear in what are apparently public spaces – these spaces should only be governed by the laws of the land and enforced by police who are democratically accountable.

The only role that private security guards should be allowed to have is to contact the real police if a crime is being committed. I dont know what law gives them these powers but it should DEFINITELY be repealed.

Why is this idea important?

There is a huge difference between real private spaces such as one's own home, and shopping malls which spend millions on advertisements begging the public to come in, or streets and squares in our towns and cities which the local authority has for some reason given up to private ownership. At present it seems that these private owners can employ their own army of thugs to enforce any rule they see fit (eg no hoodies in Bluewater – where most of the shops sell hoodies). This is extremely dangerous to our democracy. Apparently Stratford City is going to be completely outside democratic control and be run like a little mini-state within Newham. This needs to be stopped.

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