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A bit about myself:

I live in Scotland,

am a middle aged divorcee with Multiple Sclerosis who has (or had, before now) a completely clean record.

 

Last week I came home find a card through my door from the police informing me that they had called to speak to me and would I please contact PC Thingumajig to arrange a time to talk regarding 'an ongoing investigation'.

 

 

I had no idea what this could be about and my medical condition leaves me embarrassingly prone to panic reactions in even the most innocuous out-of-the-norm situations.

 

 

I immediately started panicking that I had done something illegal to warrant the police at my door but after talking it out with a friend we concluded that perhaps I had witnessed something that the police were investigating as I don't live in the best area.

 

 

I phoned the PC and arranged to come in the next day to see him but completely spaced on asking why he needed to speak with me.

 

When I got to the police station I was taken into a small room with only a table and three chairs,

PC Thingumajig asked me to sit down and as he sat in front of me and pulled out his notebook

a second PC came in behind him and closed the door.

 

 

I started to get a little shaky as it was quite intimidating (this second PC was vaguely familiar to me as one that had treated a friend of mine particularly badly last year).

 

 

I was shocked and stunned when I was told that I had been accused by the local Boots of shoplifting a mascara the previous week.

I told them that I had not but as I was in full panic mode at this point I could not really digest the information they were giving me.

 

 

They told me that they had witnesses who had seen me take it and had followed me out of the store and through the shopping mall, as well as CCTV footage of the incident.

 

 

They were quite frankly not interested in any explanation I had for what had occurred on the two occasions that I recalled being in the store over recent weeks.

 

 

When I told them of my medical condition and its effect on my memory (particularly in stressful situations) as the reason why I could not remember the day in question, the intimidating one immediately latched on to this as an explanation for my thieving ways and would not let it go.

 

 

My record was checked and since it was clean I was told they could issue an official police warning or if I wanted to contest they would charge me and send it to the PF who would decide whether to take it to court or not.

 

 

By this time I was so distressed and confused I was beginning to doubt my OWN honesty so I agreed to the warning in order to avoid the stress and pressure of the long drawn out legal procedure which could have had devastating consequences for my health.

 

 

The warning was issued as well as a ban from Boots stores (I will never be darkening their doorstep again in any event - physically or digitally).

 

Since that time I have been so stressed

I have had panic attacks when I enter the shopping mall where I do volunteer work once a week,

am prone to crying uncontrollably,

have been unwilling to leave my home

and unable to socialise with my friends.

 

 

The stress has also had a deleterious effect on my health by worsening the symptoms of my MS.

 

I have only recently been able to look at the warning notice and comprehend the date of the alleged incident which was almost exactly a week prior and, now that I can ponder it with a clear head, I DO recollect the day in question as I was re-starting art classes on that date.

 

 

I DID enter the store more than once (a point they made repeatedly) as I had wanted to print a photo from my phone and, because their machine's USB was not recognising my device, I used the USB from my portable charger and accidentally left it in their machine.

I had returned a couple of hours later to retrieve it.

 

 

Since the photo printer is at the opposite end of the store from the make-up section I have no idea why they think I pocketed a mascara but since I was nowhere near that area of the shop (except to enter and leave) I have no idea why I have been accused of this crime - the only thing I pocketed in the store was my own property!

 

Is there any way I can get the store to at least apologise for humiliating me and can I get the police to rescind the warning?

Do they not have to stop me AT THE TIME instead of waiting a week to apprehend?

Should I be worried as to how the police got my name and address?

The only way I can think is to have accessed my prescription history at the pharmacy.

 

 

They wouldn't let me see the CCTV footage either when I asked and I'm pretty sure the Data Protection Act gives me that right.

I would really appreciate any advice I can get.

Edited by stu007
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Think you need to make a formal complaint to the Police force and look to make a statement denying the accusation.

If they don't have any proof of the crime, then they should withdraw the caution from your record.

 

The lesson in future is to deny such accusations in future if you did not do what is suggested or if you cannot recall something to say nothing. Ask the Police to provide the proof and you will then be able to consider what they are saying.

We could do with some help from you.

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Hi and welcome to CAG.

A few questions.

Were you cautioned? By that, I mean, did you get told that 'Anything you say may be given in evidence'.

Did the police offer you the opportunity to speak to a solicitor?

Was the interview recorded? Were you offered a copy?

Is your disability visible as yet? were you offered assistance.

 

As you seem to be shaken by this experience, you could visit or email Citizens Advice Scotland or if you have a trusted friend you can rely on, you could get them to complain on your behalf to the police. This is your right. In your position, I would be demanding the caution be rescinded and a proper interview, with appropriate assistance be undertaken.

 

Write down everything that happened on your two visits to Boots and what you can recall from the police interview. If possible, I would also try and get the video evidence from Boots as well.

 

Here is a pdf laying out how to complain.

http://www.scotland.police.uk/assets/pdf/138327/147514/complaints-about-the-police-guide?view=Standard

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

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No I wasn't cautioned,

the first words spoken by the police were 'you know why you're here don't you?' which of course I didn't!

 

The possibility of Legal representation was never mentioned, nor was I offered the option of having a witness present.

To my knowledge the interview was not recorded.

 

The only visible effect of my condition is that I use a walking stick, but I did inform them early on that I due to the MS I had memory problems and 'fuddled' thinking. I was never offered any assistance.

 

How would I go about getting a copy of the video evidence?

Would I not have to obtain it directly from the police?

 

Should I make a complaint against Boots as their incompetence has been the instigator of this whole mess?

 

Thank you for the pdf link, I will definitely be taking a look at that, and thank you for the advice it's very helpful

 

Think you need to make a formal complaint to the Police force and look to make a statement denying the accusation. If they don't have any proof of the crime, then they should withdraw the caution from your record.

 

The lesson in future is to deny such accusations in future if you did not do what is suggested or if you cannot recall something to say nothing. Ask the Police to provide the proof and you will then be able to consider what they are saying.

 

So, would I have to contact PC Thingumajig again and tell him I want to make a statement?

I did ask them to let me see the CCTV evidence and they told me I couldn't (this was after they had written out the warning) As far as I can see, this is the only concrete evidence they think they have.

 

I denied the accusation throughout the whole experience, I told them honestly that I had not shoplifted since my rebellious early teens when I had learned my lesson quite thoroughly!

 

 

I told them that if I HAD done it I would admit it to them as I was currently scared to death, an admission which prompted the scary one to admit pleasure that his intimidation tactics were working!

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No, you just phone the station and ask to make a complaint to a supervising officer e.g Sergeant or above. You explain that you were under unacceptable duress to accept a caution, when you suffer from MS and explained to the officer that you had not done anything as far as you were aware. Ask to make a statement denying the allegation and that you require the caution to be cancelled.

We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks for that sound advice,

I have spoken with my Support Group Coordinater who has in turn spoken to a solicitor on my behalf and he advised I make a written complaint to the address on the warning notice detailing my experience.

 

 

I will be making an appointment to go in and speak to him to discuss my options b4 committing to posting a letter.

 

 

I truly feel that Boots should be held culpable in some manner as if they had confronted me at the time all this could have been sorted straight away with no fuss. Grrrrr.

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I find this very odd. I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong but before a caution is issued, the 'defendant' should be read their rights. As soon as that happens, a solicitor should be offered if wanted and any interview must be recorded for evidential purposes. Although Scottish Law differs in some aspects, those basic rights should be observed.

 

Are you sure it was a caution and not a warning?

 

As for Boots, you can ask for the CCTV. The images should not be altered although you will probably have to pay for a SAR. This should get back all the information they hold (which won't be much). Boots security may cite the Data Protection Act in any attempt to stop you seeing the CCTV. It is likely that Boots do not have their own staff to do security but use a different company.

Boots may try to pass the buck but they can't. They are ultimately responsible for their subcontractors actions.

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

Please help CAG. Order this ebook. Now available on Amazon. Please click HERE

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It was not a caution, the slip of paper says it's a 'Recorded Police Warning' at the bottom it says: This is an alternative to prosecution. This warning is not a finding of guilt or conviction' which confuses the hell out of me. It's still on my record though.

My friend has spoken to a solicitor on my behalf and she is incensed at the way I was treated and has advised me to challenge the warning to the address on the back of the paperwork. I'm going to make an appointment to see her and have a more in-depth discussion. I do feel that Boots should be challenged but I will wait and see what the lawyer says. Thankfully I qualify for Legal Aid so I don't have to worry about that for the moment.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Glad you have a lawyer and wonder if any action can be taken against the Police under the Equality Act which I hope applies in Scotland. Also a small point a USB stick looks very like some mascaras so someone might have made a genuine mistake. This does not of course alter the outrageous behaviour of the Police.

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