Teen gets shopping centre ban for ‘acting suspiciously’

Jake Fielding.
Jake Fielding.

A TEENAGER has been banned from a shopping centre for a year after security guards accused him of “acting suspiciously”.

Jake Fielding Smith, 19, was slapped with the ban by bosses at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in Hartlepool, after a trip around the complex with a female friend.

Shopping centre bosses say he was banned after staff believed he had been “acting suspiciously” and for being abusive after he was confronted.

The pair had been twice in and out of clothing store, New Look, because his friend was indecisive about a dress she liked. They were then confronted by four guards as they left another fashion shop, Internationale.

Jake said they were escorted to a fire escape where they were accused of trying to steal before being issued with a written ban.

It was then that Jake, a former High Tunstall College of Science pupil, got angry and admits that while remonstrating with the guards and two police community support officers, he used several swear words.

Jake, who is joining the Royal Navy on June 2 as a mine clearance diver, believes the ban was over the top and should be lifted and saved for criminals.

But centre manager Mark Rycraft said it will be upheld.

He said: “We are going to be upholding the exclusion order because of what happened based on the information I’ve received from my staff.

“Either way, whatever’s happened, the abuse would have meant this man would have been banned.

“If the ban had been written out before the abuse, and I don’t know if it was, the abuse was still unnecessary anyway and he would have received the ban for that.

“These orders are put in place to protect shoppers, tenants and staff.”

But Jake, who lives in Hood Close, King Oswy, said the matter is embarrassing” and added: “It made me feel like I was some kind of master criminal or something. They took us to one side and were saying ‘you know what you’re here for we’ve been following you around and you’ve been looking rather suspicious’ and ‘we’ve got it on good authority that you were trying to steal’.

“Then they started writing the ban out in a ticket book and that’s when I got angry, I admit that. But we hadn’t done anything wrong at all.”

He added: “It was, and is, so embarrassing.”

Jake, who has written a letter of appeal to Middleton Grange bosses but has had no response, said: “I can understand them banning people who are stealing or causing havoc or whatever, but not for just looking around.”