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Stopped and search requested leaving high street store


GreatWonder
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On Sunday as I was leaving a well know high street sports retailer, something triggered the security alarm as I was passing through the detectors.

 

This has happened on numerous occasions over the years and on each occasion I have always kept walking - as I am always innocent with nothing to hide. No-one has ever challenged me.

 

Now in the store on Sunday, the detectors are placed before an escalator which is the only route out of the store. Before I could get on to the escalator I was stopped by a staff member who enquired to 'what I was doing?'.

 

I advised the staff member I am 'leaving your store'. I was then told I would have to wait for another member of staff (security). Second person arrived and I was asked to show them the contents of my backpack (I was wearing over my shoulder).

 

I refused. They then made the request again, this time in a firmer tone.

 

I then asked the security / staff member to point out where in the store it's displayed that by entering their premises, customers agree to be searched on demand. They could not do this.

 

The security then made an attempt to remove my backpack from my person to which I resisted.

 

As the situation was going nowhere and getting quite heated (my suggestion to check back the CCTV was declined), I eventually gave up and reluctantly showed them the contents of my backpack and I was then allowed to leave their store.

 

I'm not looking for anything out of this incident and I realise a simple showing of the bag's contents and I could have been on my way! It's just I felt humiliated and did not cooperate straight away as my bag contained a sweaty football kit, wet towel, underwear etc. that I did not want a stranger to be rummaging through.

 

All I am interested about is do stores legally have to advise you that they have a right to search your personal items (by way of a sign) or can they just do this?

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I wouldnt have thought they would need to display a sign as its quite common sense. If the alarm is activated by someone walking through it, it raises suspicion that the*may* have stolen something.

 

If you hadnt of let them look in your bag, they could quite legally detain you (citizens arrest) until the police arrive who do have a legal right to search your bag as there is already suspicion.

 

Its simply quicker and easier to allow the store staff to check you havent stolen anything rather then refusing and waiting for the police.

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Yes, common sense did prevail and I reluctantly showed them my sweaty footie kit.

 

Just out of random curiousity, should I have objected and been detained for police etc. etc. then as a direct result have been late for work and lost a couple of hours pay, would I have been able to make a claim against the store for this? I was cutting it fine as it was, the other reason for not letting them go through my personal stuff (besides the sweaty kit) was that I would have been late for work.

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I can see no reason why you would be able to make a claim if you was late for work.

They give you the option to allow them to look through your bag to speed things up. Refusing to let them look and waiting for police may result in an £80 for wasting police time.

 

This has happened on numerous occasions over the years and on each occasion I have always kept walking

 

What was it in the end?

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Still none the wiser.

 

Set off one of the things going IN to a Sainsburys store in London a couple of years ago. That happened to be a product I'd bought and had sent from the U.S. that still had it's security tag inside.

 

Don't usually mind the checks, I was just having a bad morning!

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Library books can also set off alarms as well. Interesting thread but surely common sense would dictate that you show them the contents of the bag.

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The law as I understand it.....

 

Security guards or general shop staff do not have the right to stop and search unless they suspected you of shoplifting. Being as you were entering the store at the time, you could have refused their request as resonable suspicion has not been aroused.

 

They certainly do not have the right to take your property without your consent, and do not have the right to grab you at all unless they do beleive that you have commited a crime - and then they may only use resonable force - if you go at them first.

 

If I were you, i would make a visit to a local police station, and file a complaint against the security guard. Assult (grabbing your back pack from you) or theft of your bag, or false imprisonment (if he stopped you from leaving against your wishes at any time.

 

Then get a good solicitor to get the tapes, and sue the store to hell.....

 

If you have any reservations, get in touch with British Security Association - they will advise further.

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I wouldn't want to be searched by someone who had attitude.. I'd consider their security procedures to be their's and not mine and any cooperation would be at my discretion.

 

Am I wrong?

 

If they made a citizen's arrest, on the basis of an alarm which they know is set off by library books, could they physically block me from leaving? Would I be breaking the law if I attempted to make a break for it before or after they 'arrested me'?

 

If I'd already left the shop and was on the pavement, could I refuse to go back in? If I did refuse, and the arrested me, could I still refuse?

 

Could I arrest them first, and call the police, before they did so? If we both arrested each other, could we both use reasonable force to ensure that the other does not stray more than a few feet away?

 

What an excellent subject!

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I wouldn't want to be searched by someone who had attitude.. I'd consider their security procedures to be their's and not mine and any cooperation would be at my discretion.

 

Am I wrong?

 

If they made a citizen's arrest, on the basis of an alarm which they know is set off by library books, could they physically block me from leaving? Would I be breaking the law if I attempted to make a break for it before or after they 'arrested me'?

 

If I'd already left the shop and was on the pavement, could I refuse to go back in? If I did refuse, and the arrested me, could I still refuse?

 

Could I arrest them first, and call the police, before they did so? If we both arrested each other, could we both use reasonable force to ensure that the other does not stray more than a few feet away?

 

What an excellent subject!

 

erm.....thanks. Now you have made my head hurt.....

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The law as I understand it.....

 

Security guards or general shop staff do not have the right to stop and search unless they suspected you of shoplifting. Being as you were entering the store at the time, you could have refused their request as resonable suspicion has not been aroused.

 

They certainly do not have the right to take your property without your consent, and do not have the right to grab you at all unless they do beleive that you have commited a crime - and then they may only use resonable force - if you go at them first.

 

If I were you, i would make a visit to a local police station, and file a complaint against the security guard. Assult (grabbing your back pack from you) or theft of your bag, or false imprisonment (if he stopped you from leaving against your wishes at any time.

 

Then get a good solicitor to get the tapes, and sue the store to hell.....

 

If you have any reservations, get in touch with British Security Association - they will advise further.

 

Erm... that may all be very well, except that GreatWonder stated that s/he was leaving the store at the time...

 

Also, I would say that setting off the security alarm would constitute arousing reasonable suspicion that a crime may have been committed... (I'm not saying you did, just saying that you can kinda see why they might reasonably think you had).

 

As for the claim of assault - it's only assault if you feel in fear for your bodily integrity (ie you think they are going to physically injure you in some way): I think it's highly likely that a court would find that a security guard simply grabbing your backpack in an effort to have a look at it in the middle of a public place would not reasonably cause you to fear for your personal security. But that's just my opinion. Also, it's not theft of the bag if it's not actually been stolen - the security guard just wanted to have a look at it right in front of you, then give it back if there were no stolen goods in it.

 

To be honest, I can understand why you didn't want them raking in your backpack: I've been in this situation a few times myself (due to a habit of buying jewellery from a certain accessory shop which seems unable to remove the tags), but I've always just let them see the bag, they have a quick check, and then let you go.

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The law as I understand it.....

 

Security guards or general shop staff do not have the right to stop and search unless they suspected you of shoplifting. Being as you were entering the store at the time, you could have refused their request as resonable suspicion has not been aroused.

 

They certainly do not have the right to take your property without your consent, and do not have the right to grab you at all unless they do beleive that you have commited a crime - and then they may only use resonable force - if you go at them first.

 

If I were you, i would make a visit to a local police station, and file a complaint against the security guard. Assult (grabbing your back pack from you) or theft of your bag, or false imprisonment (if he stopped you from leaving against your wishes at any time.

 

Then get a good solicitor to get the tapes, and sue the store to hell.....

 

If you have any reservations, get in touch with British Security Association - they will advise further.

 

They do not have the right to search you at any time

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As for the claim of assault - it's only assault if you feel in fear for your bodily integrity (ie you think they are going to physically injure you in some way):

 

Nonsense. Even holding your arm to prevent you leaving is technically an assault.

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Nonsense. Even holding your arm to prevent you leaving is technically an assault.

 

It would be classed as reasonable force. They have a suspicion that you may have stolen something due to the alarm being activated. If you tried to leave the store they could use reasonable force to detain you until the police are called.

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If they made a citizen's arrest, on the basis of an alarm which they know is set off by library books, could they physically block me from leaving? Would I be breaking the law if I attempted to make a break for it before or after they 'arrested me'?

 

A person making a citizen's arrest is entitled to use reasonable force to make that arrest. However, if the arrest later turns out to be unlawful, they may be liable for assault. A citizen's arrest may only be made for an indictable offence.

 

If I'd already left the shop and was on the pavement, could I refuse to go back in? If I did refuse, and the arrested me, could I still refuse?

 

Yes. Any person making a citizen's arrest may only detain someone for a reasonable time until handing them over to a constable at the first opportunity. They cannot require the person arrested to accompany them to a particular place. Even a PCSO may only detain for a maximum of 30 minutes (they also have the option of requesting that the detained person accompany them to the Police Station).

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It would be classed as reasonable force. They have a suspicion that you may have stolen something due to the alarm being activated. If you tried to leave the store they could use reasonable force to detain you until the police are called.

 

I would suspect that you have already left the store if the alarm sounds on the exit.

 

As explained above, they can only detain you for a reasonable time until handing you over to a constable. If the Police cannot (or will not) attend, they cannot detain you indefinitely.

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I can see no reason why you would be able to make a claim if you was late for work.

 

If thier 'arrest' was unlawful, then they are liable.

 

They give you the option to allow them to look through your bag to speed things up. Refusing to let them look and waiting for police may result in an £80 for wasting police time.

 

Are you seriously saying that by refusing to allow a private individual to search you and/or your property, and insisting that you will only cooperate with the proper authority you can be guilty of wasting Police time?

 

Absolute claptrap

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I'm not looking for anything out of this incident and I realise a simple showing of the bag's contents and I could have been on my way! It's just I felt humiliated and did not cooperate straight away as my bag contained a sweaty football kit, wet towel, underwear etc. that I did not want a stranger to be rummaging through.

 

All I am interested about is do stores legally have to advise you that they have a right to search your personal items (by way of a sign) or can they just do this?

 

Security staff have no more powers than that of an ordinary citizen. They can arrest someone (and will have to do this should they wish to detain anyone from going about their normal duties) if they have "reasonable grounds".

 

From what you have written it does not seem that they did have sufficient evidence to justify reasonable grounds. IMO they were wrong. Having said that, I do acknowledge that shoplifting is a serious problem, and security staff have a tremendously difficult job apprehending and dealing with those that commit this offence. As an aside, it is so common (and usually fuelled by a drug habit) that fixed penalties are been considered rather than court action.

 

I hate it when my day-to-day activities are made more difficult because those morons who do not wish to pay for their goods. It annoys the shop staff when I wish to examine the item I wish to purchase after the security pin has been removed - I rejected a pair of shoes just last week as the pin had been put though the leather itself instead of the stitch line, and asked for a pair that was undamaged.

 

My point is that everyone needs to challenge rather than silently acquiesce.

 

You see, until someone is arrested, whatever happens is open to interpretation as this is not covered under PACE (unless someone is Cautioned). In order to have the protection of PACE, had I been there I would have asked them if I was under arrest. If they said no, I would have said that I am free to leave, and I would have left. If they then tried to detain me, it would be false imprisonment.

 

On the other hand, if they did arrest me they would again have to demonstrate reasonable grounds for suspicion - if there were none I would be able to sue for false arrest. At least while under arrest I would have the protection of the law and documented procedures.

 

I can see no reason why you would be able to make a claim if you was late for work.

They give you the option to allow them to look through your bag to speed things up. Refusing to let them look and waiting for police may result in an £80 for wasting police time.

£80 for wasting police time? What planet are you on?

 

I maybe a bit of pedantic, but I regard it as important that all citizens should challenge the powers of those in positions of authority.

 

Whether it be a local authority demanding a certain hoop to be jumped without the power requiring it, or, in this case a person put through an uncomfortable experience. How can it be wasting police time for someone to exercise their rights? If it were truly a theft, then the police would normally be involved anyway. If not, then they should have let the OP go.

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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If I was stopped like that and all that I had in my bag were smelly socks, I'd let them go right ahead.

 

Similar to the mugger who stole the old ladies carrier bag in the street. All it contained was her dogs mess!:?

Frederickson - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - Lost - Claiming back from post office

Connaught Collections - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - No Agreement - returned to client

Lowell - CCA sent 11/4/07 - No agreement - returned to client

Moorcroft - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - No Agreement - returned to client

Red Castle - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - Copy returned but no T&C's

Robinson Way - CCA Sent 16/5/07

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Of course its wasting police time, whether they would fine or not is another matter. If youve got nothing of the stores on you, why not let them have a quick look and then on you go.

 

Seems its all a bit over the top to be honest. The alarm sounds, they ask to check if you have anything in your bag. The simple thing here and is what I would do is to let them have a look.

 

Same thing happened me and the missus in PC World once on the way out. They checked the other halfs handbag, we all had a laught and a joke and they let us go.

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To say reporting this as a waste of Police time is a nonsense. I'm sorry, but the person making that statement is confused.

 

An assault can be just by words alone. This is not fiction, this is based on stated cases. A person doesn't have to have cuts and bruises etc. You perhaps are getting confused with assault and battery.

 

I've seen people arrested with just slight reddening of the skin. This is sufficient grounds for a constable to arrest on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Yes, I realise that arrest standards and charge standards are two different things.

 

I would say there are reasonable grounds to suggest that a common assault occurred. Based on this balance of probabilities under Crime Recording Statistics, I believe this should be recorded as a crime and investigated.

 

I am speaking as someone with several years criminal law experience. (I am not a solicitor)

 

If someone grabbed me, I would first ask them if they were arresting me. If they did not answer and carried on; I would use reasonable force to stop them.

 

A security guard probably has very little understanding of the law.

 

PACE section 1 provides that Constables may search persons in public if they have reasonable grounds to suspect stolen goods may be on a person. Security guards do not have this power.

 

If the supermarket had a sign on the door, saying "we reserve the right to smack you in the face if you don't purchase anything" would that be acceptable?

 

If you went with them (security) by force, I say they have affected an arrest. At common law an arrest is, "Taking a persons liberty so that they may answer an alleged or suspect offence."

 

This should be reported to the Police. They probably won't be interested, but if you kicked up a fuss, I bet they would record it.

 

Indecently, SOCPA has changed the laws on arrests for Police and also citizens.

Basically s24 of PACE says a person may arrest another if

 

He knows that an offence has (definitely) been committed, and has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person committed it, or

 

has reasonable grounds for suspecting that - at this moment - the person is committing an offence

 

Now once these conditions are met, these extra conditions must be met:-

 

it is not reasonable practicable for the arresting person to summon a constable to perform the arrest, and

the arrest is necessary to prevent injury to any person, loss or damage to property.

 

 

Note. A constable can arrest 'where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an offence has been committed, arrest any person who he has reasonable grounds for being guilty of such an offence'

 

This means a constable only has to suspect an offence took place and suspect someone of it.

 

Compare this to the ordinary person powers were and offence 'must have been committed'

 

I'd speak to a lawyer if I was you.

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Waitsing police time - ha ha ha !.

 

Powerful Rouge - please, do post the relevent act you are referring to, because the one I am reading at the moment says big words like 'wilfully obstructed' in it v- which is going to be VERY difficult to prove.

 

As others have correctly posted, an arrest on these grounds alone would be very stupid for the security officer to make - the sports shops tend to have the older type 'RF' systems with tagging, which can be set off for no reason whatsoever, including any loops of cable like Ipod player headphones etc, and as someone has mentioned, library books are a favourite.

 

When a person is arrested by security, they should be cautioned as well, so admissability is retained if they do admit to anything. Whether security actually does caution, depends on how well they have been trained.

 

Someone said earlier that security has 'no right' to remove you from your place of arrest. This one is more open to debate. There is no law that states that you cant be moved from your place of arrest, say to an office, but then again, there is no law that says you have to be moved, or that you have to move. I would be quite happy to arrest someone, and have them stand at the front entrance, to enable all my customers to see whats going on. In reality, they are much more likely to try to escape my lawful custody if they are in the car park / high street, and therefore I will take them back to the ffice, using my poer under sec 3 criminal law act, - to prevent their escape from my lawful custody. I think I would be criticised in court, if they had escaped, and something had happened to them whilst they were running. I do have a duty of care !.

 

Would be a good thing to write a stern letter to the company's head office, explaiing what had happened. When I worked Loss Prevention for M&S, they kept drumming into our heads that every 'false arrest' case cost the company about £28K in costs and lost revenue, let alone payouts to the customers.

 

Having seen how some retaillers train (or dont train) their staff, you can hopefully push them into training some of them in the law of stopping people.

All opinions & information are the personal view of the poster, and are not that of any organisation, company or employer. Any information disclosed by the poster is for personal use only. Permission to process this data under the Data Protection act is NOT GIVEN to any company, only personal readers.

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To say reporting this as a waste of Police time is a nonsense. I'm sorry, but the person making that statement is confused.

 

An assault can be just by words alone. This is not fiction, this is based on stated cases. A person doesn't have to have cuts and bruises etc. You perhaps are getting confused with assault and battery.

 

I think it may be yourself that is confused. Not once have I said that reporting this incident to the police would be a waste of their time. I think your refering to my post where I said not showing the security that you had no items in your bag and waiting until the called the police would be a waste of their time.

 

I also know the difference between assault and battery thank you ;)

 

Powerful Rouge - please, do post the relevent act you are referring to, because the one I am reading at the moment says big words like 'wilfully obstructed' in it v- which is going to be VERY difficult to prove.

 

I believe your looking at "Obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty", not wasting police time. :rolleyes:

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