By Sarah Kelly
STARBECK stores have banned hooded tops amid fears about yobs and thieves.
Jacksons and United Co-op on High Street, and Mills Newsagents on Knaresborough Road, are following in the controversial footsteps of Bluewater shopping centre in Kent by operating a no-hoodie policy.
Each store has put signs in their windows ordering people to take the hoods down before coming inside following a spate of thefts and anti-social behaviour.
The move, a first for the Harrogate district, has been welcomed by police who say criminals wear the hoods up to hide their faces from CCTV cameras. Starbeck Neighbourhood Policing Officer PC Martin Adamson said the policy was no different to asking motorcyclists to take off their helmets in shops.
He added: “We’re continuing the good work that ourselves and the retailers in the Starbeck area have done to curb anti-social behaviour.”
Paul Carr, Store Manager at Jacksons, where the policy has been in force since Saturday night, explained: “Every time kids come in in large groups, they all put their hoods up.
“I’m not saying all kids are bad but some come in here for a reason. They stand outside the shop and put their hoods up and you can’t see their faces on CCTV.”
Although only in force since Saturday, Mr Carr said the new policy seems to be a success. “It seems to have worked,” he said. “All the kids seem to have read the sign and most of the kids have taken their hoodies off straight away.”
Valerie Ackerley, Store Manger at Mills Newsagents said the store already operates a zero-tolerance policy on selling alcohol to under-18s and most customers were happy to take their hoods down before coming in.
“We’re working with the police to minimise their activity in this area,” she added.
A spokesman for United Co-operatives said: “A notice has been displayed in a number of stores, including the United Co-operatives food store, around the Starbeck area stating that individuals who wear a hooded top will be required to take it off their head before entrance to the store is permitted.
“This notice was put together in conjunction with other retailers and the local police in response to incidents that have happened in some of the stores. The notice is clearly displayed on the door of the store. We welcome those individuals who take off their hoods before entering the store.
“We do take the safety of our staff and customers very seriously. It is important that we work with the local community and police, to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for staff and customers.”
l What are your views on ‘hoodies’ in Harrogate?
Please write to the editor or email firstname.lastname@example.org