I was recently involved in an incident in a supermarket regarding alleged shoplifting. This was however a genuine mistake as I was using my own reusable bags (some purchased at their premises and some from another store) I put the items in the bags and the trolley. I had a wobbly trolley and a member of staff offered to change my trolley, she even offered to bring another trolley as it was overloaded. I continued shopping and then realised that I did need another trolley and looked for the member of staff that initially offered to help me to see if she could indeed go and get me another trolley. This is a store that requires you to have a £1 coin to use their trolleys. I could not find her and decided to get some change from the cigarettes/lottery counter so that I could get another trolley. I was stopped whilst still inside the store and asked to follow the manager inside an office and I complied. At this point I was not sure why. I am very naïve like that and I did not think for a minute that I was going to be accused of shoplifting. I had a trolley full of alcohol and beverage drinks because I was hosting a party the next day. Police were called and I was not even given the chance to give my statement, I was arrested and handcuffed, taken into a police car outside the store and detained at the police station where I was search and put in a cell for at least 4 hours. I was then granted bail and asked to come back for an interview 7 days later as the Pc in charge was busy taking statements from the supermarket staff and other more serious matters- I was told. I am 6 months pregnant and they could see that I was becoming increasingly tired. I have never been involved with the police before and it was not my intention to leave the store without paying for the goods. I was hoping that the police could verify my side of the story by looking at the evidence: cctv footage of the day. Unfortunately, their cctv was not working and they are unable to prove in any way that I indeed intended to leave their premises with the unpaid shopping. Last Friday, I had the interview with the PC in charge and he told me that they can’t take a decision on whether to charge me or not because they are not qualified to do so, and that this matter needs to be taken care by the CPS and that I have to come back (again granted bail) on December 14th.
It is very unfair that I have to be put through all this. Since then, I have been bullied and humiliated first by the store staff and the police officers that kept me in custody by searching me and keeping me detained without a single proof of evidence. In my opinion I haven’t had left the store at the time where I was stopped and due to the lack of evidence it is their word against mine. I have now been informed that I will also need to pay Civil Recovery charges and a parking fine for leaving my car at their parking for longer than permitted!. The whole incident is just outrageous. It has been badly handled by the police as there is not evidence that can prove that I am thief. I am very stressed about this situation and I can’t sleep or eat. I can’t believe that a shopping trip turned out into this nightmare.
First of all, I want to sue the store for ‘unlawful imprisonment’ as they had no right to stop me before I have actually left the store. In my condition, I have been put through unnecessary stress which contributed to a significant decreased of featal movement.
I have been banned from their stores nationwide and as I mentioned earlier am being harassed by their solicitors with a notice of intented civil recovery to a significant amount. I have no intention of paying this as the policeman that interviewed me asked me to ignore it? Very confusing. I think he thinks am genuine. I am obviously very confused and distressed about this whole thing.
I would like some information on this and what I can do about it, is it worthwile getting a solicitor? is it worthwile bringing them up for defamation of character and unlawful imprisonment? Should I contact local press and/or MP? Anything would be much appreciated as I am at my wits end!!!!! Many Thanks.