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Default falsely accused of shoplifting

I was in a shopping mall with my partner yesterday

when we were approached by a security guard

and asked to leave the mall as "we weren't shopping to their satisfaction."

 

Admittedly I laughed at first and said "why is there a special way to shop?".

He apologised and said it wasn't under his orders but had come from "upstairs".

Of course we refused to leave until given a full explanation as to why we were asked to leave.

 

A policeman appeared and said that I had been seen in Debenhams placing a large box of aftershave in my handbag

then taking it out again because I knew I'd been "spotted".

 

In reality the salesgirl had told us this aftershave was a limited edition with only two bottles remaining and there was also a free sample along with it.

 

Admittedly I picked up the bottle and took a few steps away from her and spoke to my partner about what a bargain it was

when a 75ml was £66 but 180ml was only £10 pounds more.

 

My partner had recently bought a new bottle so we conversed about to buy or not.

During this time I was sideways on to two salesgirls in the dior department and sideways on to the salesgirl

we had just spoken to so not out of anyones sight in fact the middle of an aisle.

 

So we decide to buy the aftershave go back to the salesgirl hand her the box and ask for the free sample

which she then carries to the till and I pay for with my debenhams card.

 

All is well with the world I thought.

 

We then proceeded to walk the full length of the mall looking for whsmiths for my partner to buy his niece an educational gift for her birthday.

I happily stared at the top book list whilst he went looking for a gift to get the call from my partner to say we were wanted outside.

 

Now as I explained to the police and head of security I had the box at all times in the opposite hand to my handbag and at no time EVER did I try to place it in my bag.

 

The store detective claimed I'd been seen placing it in to my handbag (would have taken ten minutes of fumbling to have done that

as not large bag and as usual full of a womans junk)

then "spotted" I'd been seen so took it back out of my bag and went to the salesgirl to pay for it.

 

Does this sound like the actions of a thief would I have not just put it back on the shelf rather than shell out £76 on aftershave??

None of it made any sense when I asked to see cctv footage of this "alleged" crime I was told it wasn't on cctv

but it was on cctv me going back over to the salesgirl and my transaction taking place.

 

The store "detective" would not let the salesgirl verify that she had heard us debating over the purchase

and would not allow us back in the store.

 

However the head of security of the mall said "it was stupid" and that he was quite happy for us to carry on shopping in the rest of the mall.

 

I opened up my bag to prove I wouldn't have got a bottle that size in my bag and offered for them to check other items

and receipts for other items we'd bought but they all declined.

 

I told them I would take this as far as I possibly could as the only explanation I could think of is that we are a mixed race couple and someone took objection to this.

 

I'd like to know my legal rights please and how far I can take this false accusation.

 

I felt really humiliated as all this was played out in public.

Edited by citizenB
formatted for easier reading

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I have moved your thread to the correct forum. I am sure someone will be along soon to help :)


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as a retail security officer I can sympathise with both parties involved. However that being said I am inclined to believe you may have been wrongly accused in this case.

 

First and foremost I would write to the retail store 'Head of Customer Relations', and explain what occurred and that you feel you were wrongly accused by their store security officer of theft which as you state was not witnessed on CCTV so wish to know who saw you commit such actions, where they were standing, was their sight impeded in any way as well as what action you would like to remedy this for you.

 

Personally I think the officer may have made a mistake however mistakes can be extremely costly which is why I stick to a simple acronym of ASCONE - Approach item(s), Select item(s), Conceal item(s), Observation 100%, Non payment, Exit. any one of those missing I will not stop the person and detain them, rather the stock go than detain a person illegally. ASCONE is pretty much standard for retail security officers and Store deectives with the exception some use SCONE instead of ASCONE.

 

Hope this helps

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as a retail security officer I can sympathise with both parties involved. However that being said I am inclined to believe you may have been wrongly accused in this case.

 

First and foremost I would write to the retail store 'Head of Customer Relations', and explain what occurred and that you feel you were wrongly accused by their store security officer of theft which as you state was not witnessed on CCTV so wish to know who saw you commit such actions, where they were standing, was their sight impeded in any way as well as what action you would like to remedy this for you.

 

Personally I think the officer may have made a mistake however mistakes can be extremely costly which is why I stick to a simple acronym of ASCONE - Approach item(s), Select item(s), Conceal item(s), Observation 100%, Non payment, Exit. any one of those missing I will not stop the person and detain them, rather the stock go than detain a person illegally. ASCONE is pretty much standard for retail security officers and Store deectives with the exception some use SCONE instead of ASCONE.

 

Hope this helps

Thank you for the reply

 

I already contacted customer services and wrote to head office.I didn't ask for anything just that I'd been wrongly accused.I asked at the time to see cctv footage which they declined.

 

I asked for the salesgirl to be brought out so she could verify that she had heard us discussing if to buy or not.I also asked to speak to the person who thought they saw what they obviously so didn't again they declined.

 

I wasn't stopped at all in Debenhams I was stopped outside WhSmiths and asked to leave their mall for reasons I explained before.So obviously it was related back to a third party that they thought I was a thief.

 

It was all played out in public not once was I offered anywhere to speak privately.I openly offered them to search our bags and my handbag and was declined.

 

To me this amounts to slandering my good name.I have no criminal record what so ever not even points on my driving licence and neither has my partner.What I want to know is if I can sue for slander as I am 100% sure that aftershave never went near my bag.I was stood in the middle of an aisle with two sale girls at either side of me in full view of everyone and I was side on to them so if I'd done what they said I would have had to have been pretty stupid.

 

It was supposed to be a relaxing day out for me before a hospital procedure today that I'm very scared about having already had one major operation this year.As it is I haven't eaten or slept since I've been so distressed.

Edited by honeybee13
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What I want to know is if I can sue for slander

 

Hello there.

 

Taking action for libel or slander is a very expensive business, £10,000 is often quoted here. You wouldn't get legal aid and I don't know if a no win no fee lawyer would take such a case.

 

My best, HB

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Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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What I want to know is if I can sue for slander

 

Hello there.

 

Taking action for libel or slander is a very expensive business, £10,000 is often quoted here. You wouldn't get legal aid and I don't know if a no win no fee lawyer would take such a case.

 

My best, HB

Luckily for me my daughter is a lawyer though not in this subject.So I am having her look into the legal aspects obviously she has many friends who are lawyers in various specialitists.To be honest I don,t care about the cost . my good name and the principle is the case here for me I,m afraid.

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First and foremost you should have been able to see/speak to the member of staff who claimed you committed an offence as by law (assuming they are an SIA licenced officer) you can request their name and licence number as displayed on their licence so they could be in the wrong here however that would depend if you requested to speak to the person or requested their details as I have in the past given colleagues licence details to a person requesting them but declined the person face to face contact due to the person being in an agressive state however dont see that to be an issue in your case.I would keep on at the company head office especially about public accusations, I had recently been stopped at a local tesco for activating the aerial alarm but the officer detained me saying I had stolen a dvd player, unbeknown to him I had a tab of tags from my workplace upon my person, he almost lost his job for wrongly accusing me, a schoolboy error he will never make again, out of both embarrasment and also the police warning for illegally detaining me although I found it quite amusing.Best advice is keep on at head office (they will hope you go away so dont), request all CCTV footage of yourself in the store (they have to produce it to you within a reasonable time frame, it can cost so bear that in mind and do it quickly as most CCTV only last 30-90 days before it is written over automatically), write to the mall you were ejected from requesting why you were ejected, and whom had told them you were to be ejected for such 'behaviour'.

in relation to offering to be searched unfortunately this is a big no no, only a sworn police officer has power to search a person and property however a security officer may look into an opened bag and request a person move property in bags to ensure no items causing an issue although this mainly applies to door supervisors at bars, clubs, music events etc. With CCTV data protection prohibits playback to any individual without an SIA CCTV Operator licence as well as needing to blank or change other peoples faces on any cctv released to a member of the public which is why it must be requested and can be charged for.

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First and foremost you should have been able to see/speak to the member of staff who claimed you committed an offence as by law (assuming they are an SIA licenced officer) you can request their name and licence number as displayed on their licence so they could be in the wrong here however that would depend if you requested to speak to the person or requested their details as I have in the past given colleagues licence details to a person requesting them but declined the person face to face contact due to the person being in an agressive state however dont see that to be an issue in your case.I would keep on at the company head office especially about public accusations, I had recently been stopped at a local tesco for activating the aerial alarm but the officer detained me saying I had stolen a dvd player, unbeknown to him I had a tab of tags from my workplace upon my person, he almost lost his job for wrongly accusing me, a schoolboy error he will never make again, out of both embarrasment and also the police warning for illegally detaining me although I found it quite amusing.Best advice is keep on at head office (they will hope you go away so dont), request all CCTV footage of yourself in the store (they have to produce it to you within a reasonable time frame, it can cost so bear that in mind and do it quickly as most CCTV only last 30-90 days before it is written over automatically), write to the mall you were ejected from requesting why you were ejected, and whom had told them you were to be ejected for such 'behaviour'.

in relation to offering to be searched unfortunately this is a big no no, only a sworn police officer has power to search a person and property however a security officer may look into an opened bag and request a person move property in bags to ensure no items causing an issue although this mainly applies to door supervisors at bars, clubs, music events etc. With CCTV data protection prohibits playback to any individual without an SIA CCTV Operator licence as well as needing to blank or change other peoples faces on any cctv released to a member of the public which is why it must be requested and can be charged for.

Can you please break the above into paragraphs as difficult to read?

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Luckily for me my daughter is a lawyer though not in this subject.So I am having her look into the legal aspects obviously she has many friends who are lawyers in various specialitists.To be honest I don,t care about the cost . my good name and the principle is the case here for me I,m afraid.

 

You would be best to leave it with your lawyers then. I do not think you will get anywhere with defamation proceedings. You were courteously asked to leave private property and "Of course we refused to leave until given a full explanation". They did not slander you by answering that demand. Slander is when an accusation is published or spoken to third parties (the Police would not be included as a third party, due to absolute privilege).

 

If cost is no object, commence a case and see what they offer.

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First and foremost you should have been able to see/speak to the member of staff who claimed you committed an offence as by law (assuming they are an SIA licenced officer) you can request their name and licence number as displayed on their licence so they could be in the wrong here however that would depend if you requested to speak to the person or requested their details as I have in the past given colleagues licence details to a person requesting them but declined the person face to face contact due to the person being in an agressive state however dont see that to be an issue in your case.I would keep on at the company head office especially about public accusations, I had recently been stopped at a local tesco for activating the aerial alarm but the officer detained me saying I had stolen a dvd player, unbeknown to him I had a tab of tags from my workplace upon my person, he almost lost his job for wrongly accusing me, a schoolboy error he will never make again, out of both embarrasment and also the police warning for illegally detaining me although I found it quite amusing.Best advice is keep on at head office (they will hope you go away so dont), request all CCTV footage of yourself in the store (they have to produce it to you within a reasonable time frame, it can cost so bear that in mind and do it quickly as most CCTV only last 30-90 days before it is written over automatically), write to the mall you were ejected from requesting why you were ejected, and whom had told them you were to be ejected for such 'behaviour'.

in relation to offering to be searched unfortunately this is a big no no, only a sworn police officer has power to search a person and property however a security officer may look into an opened bag and request a person move property in bags to ensure no items causing an issue although this mainly applies to door supervisors at bars, clubs, music events etc. With CCTV data protection prohibits playback to any individual without an SIA CCTV Operator licence as well as needing to blank or change other peoples faces on any cctv released to a member of the public which is why it must be requested and can be charged for.

 

 

For gods sake don't listen to this clap trap. There's so much wrong with it, where do I start .....

 

First and foremost you should have been able to see/speak to the member of staff who claimed you committed an offence as by law (assuming they are an SIA licenced officer) you can request their name and licence number as displayed on their licence

 

Only if you are arrested are you entitled to any sort of information from the accuser. This will be supplied to you in form of a statement, to your solicitor, or put to you in interview at the station. Although its 'good practice' for security to relate the facts of what they have seen in front of you, there is nothing in law that says you have to do it.

 

There is also nothing at all in the Private Industry Security Act that says you have to give any tom dick or harry your SIA badge number. Only police, the SIA and council licensing are entitled to it. If they choose to pass that on to the public, so be it. Oh, and Debenhams only use in house staff, so no requirement to be licensed at all.

 

write to the mall you were ejected from requesting why you were ejected, and whom had told them you were to be ejected for such 'behaviour'

 

Its private property. The mall have the right to pick and choose who they want on their property, for any reason they want, as long as its not sexist or racist reasons. Just like your house, you can pick and choose who you let in, and remove that invitation at any time, on any whim. The second you tell them they are no longer welcome, they become a trespasser, and you can use force if needed to remove them.

 

in relation to offering to be searched unfortunately this is a big no no, only a sworn police officer has power to search a person and property however a security officer may look into an opened bag and request a person move property in bags to ensure no items causing an issue although this mainly applies to door supervisors at bars, clubs, music events etc

 

A security officer, store detective, other person doesn't have the RIGHT to search you by force. Any use of force by them to perform a search may amount to assault. However, if you give permission, of course they can. Again, some places have a 'right of search as condition of entry' - you consent to being searched on entry, or you don't get in, simples. Searching of a bag, is NOT assault or illegal. Can a bag make an allegation it was assaulted by you searching it ?????. If the bag happens to be attached to the shopper, and it turns into a snatching match, then of course, you commit the assault on the person.

 

 

With CCTV data protection prohibits playback to any individual without an SIA CCTV Operator licence as well as needing to blank or change other peoples faces on any cctv released to a member of the public which is why it must be requested and can be charged for.

 

Not true. If the CCTV operator is employed by the store (in house) there is absolutely no requirement for them to have any licence at all. The only bit above that is sort of correct, is: as a data subject, you are entitled to the footage of yourself. You can request to see the footage, and the store has to supply it to you - they can charge up to £40 for this, and you wont get it immediately. As others in the footage have the right to their own privacy, the footage you get will have anyone elses faces will be blurred out, unless they have given their permission.

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