Youths have been controversially banned from wearing hoods in some UK shopping centres. But they have found two unlikely establishment allies. The Church of England’s second in command wore a red 'hoodie' himself when he addressed a Bradford Diocese conference on youth work. Outspoken Archbishop of York John Sentamu said the hoodie had been given to him by Birmingham teenagers. And now the UK's Tory party leader David Cameron has lept to their defence.
Sentamu, Britain’s first Black archbishop, asked people not to unfairly judge those who wear hoodies which are popular among young people who follow American rapper-inspired urban culture. But the hoods are also worn by some trendy middle-aged people in the community like Chief Inspector George Rhoden, who is head of the Metropolitan Black Police Association. Rhoden says security guards at shopping centres have sometimes given him a wary look because of his hoodie. But he has been able to reassure them that he is not a ‘stereotypical mugger’.
Meanwhile, .new Conservative Party leader David Cameron, desperate to cultivate a trendy image among voters, says that teenagers who hide under hooded tops are trying to "blend in" rather than appear threatening. In a speech he described them as "a response to a problem, not a problem itself". And he argues that while teenage criminals must be punished, they should also be shown "a lot more love".
Hooded tops have come to be viewed by some as a symbol of social disorder. Last year the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent banned people wearing hooded tops, and said youths were using the hoods to shield their faces from CCTV cameras while committing crimes.
"We - the people in suits - often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters
Archbishop Sentamu said: ‘Ninety-nine per cent of those who wear hoodies are law-abiding citizens.” A political exile from his native Uganda, he has never been scared to break with tradition. At his inauguration as Archbishop of York he invited bare-chested dancers and played African drums.
Sentamu has also criticised police for their racially-biased ‘stop and search’ tactics which have targeted Black people, including himself.