By Alastair Jamieson
Parents offered electronic tags for children in shopping centre
Parents are being offered electronic tags to keep an eye on their children in a busy shopping centre.
The devices, attached to a child’s wrist, set off an alarm if they stray near any of the exits.
The tags will be offered to parents shopping at the giant £1.6bn Westfield centre which opened in west London in October.
It is thought to the first shopping centre in the world to offer customers the technology, which also alerts parents if their child goes within 10 yards of any exit.
A spokeswoman denied the scheme was being introduced because children were getting lost in the giant centre, which is the size of 30 football pitches and has 265 shops. “It gives parents added comfort to get on with the enjoyment of shopping,” she said. “The system is aimed at younger toddlers who are less able to communicate effectively with staff.”
The KidStopper devices are offered by an Irish firm and were originally developed for use at the Legoland theme park in Denmark.
In 2002 scientists at Reading University devised a scheme in which children could be implanted with a permanent microchip to monitor their whereabouts. It came in the wake of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman but was criticised by childrens’ groups including Kidscape and Barnardo’s who said it was an overreaction that would not benefit children in the longer term.