A couple of years ago when the Westfield in Shepherds Bush was announced I was distinctly underwhelmed. Do we really need more shops? In this global recession?
Then when the central line was suspended for 8 months at 4 weeks notice to “accelerate transport improvements ahead of the Westfield development” I was pissed off; and when I found out that Westfield had helped to pay for the work and heard the rumour that it was on the condition that the work was done in the day time (and in turn starve local business) I straight up loathed the place.
Then it opened and it had a Waitrose so I left my principals at the door and filled my boots with lovely foods… I reconciled my guilt with the fact that it was that or Morrisons and I’m only human.
I shop in the Waitrose there most days (I’m an actor, I don’t have anything better to do) and have done since it opened; and as time has tempered my ire (and made me a hypocrite) I also go there to buy pants and socks from M&S (easy girls) and games from Game (sexier by the second); to cut a story short I’m a regular Westfield bitch.
A couple of days ago I went to M&S and bought some jogging bottoms which turned out to be too long for my little fat body so today I took them back to change them.
Only I didn’t.
On approaching the Westfield I noticed there were lots of private security guards, an airport style walk through metal detector and a sniffer dog.
As I made my way to the store one of the security guards approached me and in a very friendly manner said that they were carrying out random checks and that they’d like to search me. I replied that I didn’t feel that was appropriate but that I would like to return the jogging bottoms to M&S.
Then another security guard came over (again very friendly, I can’t stress that enough) and explained that for people’s safety they were randomly checking bags, searching and sniffing people with metal dectors and the dog.
I asked the chap if that was legal and he said that as Westfield was private property it was perfectly legal and if I wouldn’t consent to the search they would simply refuse me admittance. I said that I was happy for him to look in my bag but personally I felt that the metal detector and dog was a step too far.
The chap said that I should just think of it like I was at the airport and that it really wasn’t a big deal. I said that it doesn’t seem right to have to be searched and sniffed to go shopping and he replied that he understood where I was coming from “Blame the Olympics, this really is just for peoples safety”.
At this point he lent into me and said quietly “Look sir, you’re a nice guy, very calm and polite. You’re not the type we’re worried about but we have to be seen to be even handed with the searches”.
This didn’t really have the reassuring effect on me that he hoped it would.
I thanked him for his honesty and started to head back home only to be told that I couldn’t walk the way I needed to (completely in the open, past the restaurants) so I had to turn back around and walk back the long way home.
I’ve not really processed this all yet, apologies for this blog being a bit of a stream of conciousness, I just wanted to get down the turn of events as quickly as I could; I understand that there are times when security measures are necessary but obligatory searches for shopping are surely beyond the pale. I worry that this could set a dangerous precedent for the future and I wouldn’t be suprised if these private security searches stick…
Also now I can’t go to the fucking gym.
Thanks for reading.
PS While writing this blog I’ve been getting a bit of stick on Twitter for making a big deal out of nothing (These are vastly outnumbered by positive respones though). If you don’t think this is a problem then that’s great. Genuinely. But I’d want to know if this had happened to someone else and so I’m just passing it on.
Is it justifiable to treat people as criminals to protect them from criminals?