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DWF/Sainsbury's redress letter to minor for shoplifting without parent knowledge


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My 14 year old son shoplifted sweets from Sainsbury's to the value of £8.25 and was caught, questioned in a back room, banned and then sent on his way.

All without any parent contact or an independent adult there when he was questioned.

Never been in trouble before.

Police not contacted.

 

A week later, a letter was sent addressed to my 14-year old son from DWF Law LLP (see attachment - names deleted), acting on behalf of Sainsbury's, demanding £158.25 - £150 for security costs and £8.25 for value of goods stolen (which were returned undamaged at the time of being caught). Still we were not informed - no communication at all with us, the parents.

 

Suffice to say we will not be paying this as I believe DWF Law LLP have made unlawful threats to a minor and acted with complete disregard to the welfare of a minor.

 

From my understanding of threads here, they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

I have contacted the Legal Ombudsman to raise my deep concern at this cynical and unlawful behaviour, which seems to be quite widespread (Citizen's Advice Bureau raised Boots doing the same thing).

 

I wonder what my son may have done if he had opened that letter alone and we remained none the wiser? Another real concern is that this practice is very likely being dealt out to vulnerable children. It's truly shocking.

 

The threads say to ignore any letters/communication from DWF, which I am happy to do.

However, while acknowledging my son's behaviour was completely unacceptable, I want to challenge Sainsbury's as I am horrified that all this can happen without the knowledge or communication with parents.

 

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Aren't they legally obliged to contact parents?

 

DWF letter.pdf

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as far as i can see 14yrs old is greater than 10 - The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales but ofcouse this is NOT a criminal event.

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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A crime in my eyes, but even if my son is classed as criminally responsible, he is still legally a minor and so surely shouldn't be sent a demand for money or questioned in a back room of Sainsbury's without parents being informed? I'm stumped. How can we respond/react/try to put things right as parents if we aren't informed? 

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All Retail Loss Prevention Staff are SIA trained and accredited and have enhanced dbs checked for the sole reason they could have unsupervised contact with minors.

 

it's sometimes far better some parents don't findout about these issues as they make a far greater balloon out of it than what needs to be.

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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  • dx100uk changed the title to DWF/Sainsbury's redress letter to minor for shoplifting without parent knowledge

@everoptimist433 I share your outrage at this. I don't know what Retail Loss Prevention staff training is, but it is one thing to be using a particular procedure and certification to be dealing with a criminal matter from a crime prevention point of view. It is a completely different matter apparently to be applying these kinds of rules to what is effectively a profit-making bounty hunting exercise against a 14 year old boy.

Apart from anything else, if they did eventually try to bring a legal action in the county courts, you would have to be involved and all the accreditation, age of criminal responsibility – et cetera would be absolutely relevant because your son would have to be sued "by you, his parents".

I'm quite sure that if Sainsbury's management – in other words people at the responsible level – knew what was going on here, they would be appalled and I'm sure that many of them are parents and they would share your sense of outrage.

At the end of the day, you shouldn't be paying anything and if you receive any more communications then let us know.

I suggest that you send them one response and tell them that apart from the fact that they won't get any money out of you, you look forward to this matter going to court because you will make sure that Sainsbury's know about it and so does the public.
 

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The other way of looking at the retail loss prevention(RLP) letters is that they are a letter to the address of the person caught shoplifting which will act as a warning that there can be consequences.  Even if the amount requested is not paid, the letter may have a deterrent effect.

 

If the store did nothing other than issue a verbal warning, that may not be sufficient.

 

And if store were not issuing verbal warnings and arranging for RLP letters to be sent, they might still be calling Police to stores or informing the school children attend if the offence was committed on a school day.

We could do with some help from you.

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One thing we have always been told that if its a school child they have to inform the school. I know this as the school contacted me over a incident that happened between one of my neighbours children, he is out of control with SS involved in the family, and my daughter,13 tho 12 at time.

 

The incident happened in a local shop and without me present but l was surprised to have a call from the school re it. They said the police had called them. Shop did make me aware by phone call and police brought her and shopping home. 

 

I was told that the police had to inform the school under a government policy and that the child who caused the problem could not be spoken to by security or police unless a appropriate adult was present. Offending chid is year 9/10. 

 

CEOs email for Sainsburys is [email protected] 

 

Look into the rules around the RLP and see if any of them have been broken as that way if you have any further issues then you can go back saying no you did not follow the rules especially with my son not being supervised by a adult not linked to Sainsburys or the security company parents not informed etc. 

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Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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Thank you so much to all the responses. We, as parents, are deeply concerned that Sainsbury's and DWF have acted in such a shocking manner. I keep going back to the thought of what more vulnerable adults and children might do faced with such circumstances. Anyone who is a parent will know that they would want to be informed. The experience of being caught and banned has had a terrifying effect on my son, so we are reassured this behaviour won't be repeated. But to send him such an unlawful letter demanding money they have no legal basis to demand - that is really, really wrong.

I am going to shout this from the roof tops as much as I can to call out Sainsbury's and DWF. Parents should know about this and not be scared into paying money to these sharks. 

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regardless to age, no one should be receiving letters from these DWF scammers concerning civil redress 'schemes'. (scams)

none of the money ever paid to the likes of these people ever goes back to the retailer with regard to security and staff wages (which are paid for anyway as part of their natural course of work).

 

and most certainly nothing goes back in regard to lost revenue, it all goes in DWF/RLP's pocket to fund the harassment of further 'victims' and ofcouse a nice round of drink that night down the pub.

 

Sainsbury head office signed up to DWF nationally, not your local stores nor their trained staff. They have to do what they are told by head office and report all cases up the national chain.

 

 

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Thinking aloud, but if the police had been involved and wanted to question a child under 18 then under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 [PACE] they could only do so if there was an 'Appropriate Adult' present. They cannot interview a 14 year old with just the child and police officers present. That applies both to "informal" voluntary interviews as well as those done formally under caution.

 

About appropriate adults

 

I realise that legally PACE doesn't apply to a Sainsbury's security guard but it feels wrong that Sainsbury's can interview children without the safeguards that police must put in place.

 

And in a formal police interview it has to be recorded, but AFAIK no such requirement applies to interviews by Sainsbury's security guards. And, in a formal police interview, there must be a signed interview record.

 

@everoptimist433 some of the reasons why AAs are required under PACE on that link might be useful to you in challenging Sainsbury's. That the AA is there to prevent miscarriages of justice because vulnerable children may not understand the significance of what they are being asked or their rights etc. Vulnerable children can easily be intimidated into making admissions of things that aren't actually true.

 

Also a SAR to ask for any recording of the interview and for the interview record. If they say none exists that's another help to your argument. Why do they not meet the minimum standards that police would have to follow?

 

Another question you could ask is whether Sainsbury's security guards have specific training in interviewing children. Being DBS checked etc doesn't mean they are trained to interview children.

 

I hope your son has learned his lesson.

 

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What I am deeply concerned about this is the effect a letter like that could have on a 14 year old who may have been bullied into stealing those sweets.

 

So you now have a child who is being bullied at school and then hounded for money (illegally) and to a 14 year old that would seem like the end of the World.

 

That could end very badly.

 

You must force them to progress this matter so they and their horrendous practices are dragged into the light of day and exposed.

 

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Hi Homer67, yes - believe me I am doing what I can to raise this issue and get answers. 

 

What I find quite depressing is that the CAB 'Uncivil Recovery' investigation/evidence briefing did not seem to make a difference when it comes to law making as, 11 years on, this practice is still widespread - targeting low value shoplifters to scare them into paying large amounts in civil recovery when it's not right or legally binding. Fattening the pockets of cowboy law firms and major retailers through fear and ignorance.

 

I guess politicians don't want to spend time on what the general public may view as protecting rights of shoplifters - not vote-worthy material. I'm sure my story would provoke a lot of scornful, ignorant comments focusing on how awful my son is to shoplift and how we must be terrible parents, while completely overlooking the outrageous, illegal, immoral and dangerous behaviours of these major retailers and their side kick law firms. 

 

I am doing what I can to raise this issue and get answers.

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@everoptimist433  Think you will find that many Politicians support the RLP system, as well as many other organisations.

 

The reason for this support, is that going back in time, Police were called out so often to retails outlets, that they might as well have had Police officers permanently based in City Centres and Town Centres.  And this meant less Police Officers to deal with more serious crimes and situations.

 

 Police getting involved with most shoplifting would be very expensive and those committing the offences would have to be processed in Police Stations with records being made etc.   Making the retail sector responsible for their own security means employing additional security staff which comes at a cost and perhaps RLP partly covers this.  Should they be writing to those under 16, I am not clear whether this is allowed or not by law.

 

Not saying I am in favour of RLP, but just trying to measure your expections of how your complaints might be answered. 

We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks, unclebulgaria67. That does make sense and I totally get the points you've made and why this has support - clearly police haven't the resources and shouldn't have to be involved in low value shoplifting and yet it must be very frustrating for retailers.

 

My focus is obviously on the situation in which my son found himself in, how he was dealt with and the total lack of appreciation for safeguarding/welfare rights. I find extremely worrying (also on behalf of vulnerable children and adults) that they feel it was ok to treat a vulnerable child like this with no parental contact or appropriate adult there protecting him.

 

And then the letter sent to my child by DWF was outrageous in every respect. 

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it is not illegal thus not criminal for DWF/RLP seek Civil recovery, just a scam in a way.

the security staff are and must be fully trained and accredited by/to various orgs .

as long as they do not physically search a minor , they are not at fault.

 

concentrate on the DWF/RLP scammers.

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Sorry dx100uk, I didn't realise it was legal to send a 14 year old, without parent knowledge, a demand for arbitrary amounts of money for no costs incurred, or for Sainsbury's to take a vulnerable child who doesn't know his legal rights, into an isolated room away from the public to question him without an appropriate adult or informing anyone else (tantamount to kidnap in my opinion).

 

I really appreciate all the helpful comments given by members of the site team, but don't quite get some of the points you have made or why you are making them.

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@everoptimist433  The reason for the comments being made about the under 16 issue, is that for a very long time, even before RLP,  retail store security staff would have apprehended children and taken them into the stores security office.  The security officers will have been vetted before being employed with enhanced CRB checks and received full training so they complied with the law. 

 

You are unhappy with what has happened, as many parents would be.  But would parents in this situation have been happier, if the Police were called out, the child was taken to a Police station, the parents called down to the station and it was made very clear to child as well as parents that a warning was being given that if this happened again. action would be taken. 

 

I can remember back along time ago, when the Poilce did get involved and sometimes the schools,  The child made a mistake in trying to steal a few items, was then labelled as a thief amongst their friends and the family was looked on as having problems. 

 

I don't think retailers or their Solicitors should be allowing for RLP letters to be issued to children, but they are quite entitled to take appropriate actions to protect their businesses.  I think many parents would prefer store security staff to be involved,  rather than have Police involved as described.  And the stores do not have the time to wait around for parents to get to the stores after being called.  In large supermarkets, they can have several instances every day they are dealing with.

We could do with some help from you.

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If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Share on other sites

Sorry but they should not be interviewing a minor without a appropriate adult present. They could threaten the child with anything if a adult is present then they might not. 

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sainsbury's have responded saying that DWP shouldn't have written to our son and they apologised, but gave the excuse that our son's date of birth wasn't put on the incident form by the store security. They said DWP will not pursue the matter further and that the person dealing with my complaint will take up my concerns with the store security internally.

They said that they don't have to follow same rules as police (by having an appropriate adult there) but that if I would like them to report this to the police then to let them know (which I read as a rather unpleasant threat).

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Sorry but this is not good enough. the security guard needs investigating. they also should not be interviewing a minor without a adult present. Just because they dont have the same rules they can easily say well if you want our contract you need to follow our rules and have a adult present. 

 

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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