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Can someone clarify the legal rights of security guards?

Rich

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#1
Recently I got stopped at the alarm barrier at a supermarket because the cashier on the checkout didn't spot and remove a security tag. I was in a hurry but I cooperated anyway. Considering that I had paid for everything and was not committing a crime - did I have the right to just tell the security guard 'No - leave me alone!'? What rights do the guards have? Can they search me? Can they restrain me? Would that be considered assault and can I defend myself?

Thanks, Richard.
This was the first time I've posted on here - so I naively assumed that uk.answers.yahoo.com would put me in touch with English users. I've reposted with a clarification asking for advice on UK law.
 

SGT. D

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#2
You did the right thing in co-operating. Too many people take being challenged by a guard personally. A Security officer has no more authority than any other citizen in most states, although there are some states that make special provisions for retailers guards enforcing thefts from their places of business. Most guards or LPI's (loss prevention Investigators as they are called now) will stop you and ask something like "did you forget to pay for something sir?" If you were to say "no" and keep walking, they had better be certain you have taken an item illegally before detaining or searching you or you can sue for violation of your civil rights, but if you refuse to co-operate and say you had said "no just leave me alone" and you did not have a stolen item on you, then the retailer still has the right to refuse to sell to you next time you come into his establishment and he can also put a trespass order on you so that you are not allowed on the property again and you would be arrested and charged for trespass if you did enter. I think you did the exact right thing by co-operating, saves alot of time and hassle on everyones part. Just remember this next time, Losses from retail theft and shoplifting are all passed on to you the consumer which makes everything you by a hell of a lot more expensive, by having Loss prevention controls in place the retailers are just trying to control those losses which actually saves you and I (the honest, hardworking schmucks) money in the long run. Hope this helped.
 
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#3
Every security guard have the right to search within their compound but that is however not the right given under the law but rather the policy of the management i.e. the right only operate within the supermarket. Under the law, anyone have a right to detain another for suspicion of a crime committed as such when he really is detaining or searching u is under the law given to anyone. As such he will not be consider an assault unless he use unnecessary force or threat against you. However your right as a individual could give you the power to reject his search and demand justification. Challenge him or his management for the unauthorized search or detain. Best is to ask him to call for police but you are not going to let him search you, in this way it show you are innocent or challenge a legal suit against them if nothing is to be found on you. Both way work perfectly fine under the law but the poor security was just doing his job, so it up to your call as what to do.
 

Babz

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#4
If you know you have nothing stolen on you then you must verbally inform the Gard that you have not stolen anything, if they insist you have and search you you do have a right to sew for type of slander, ( mainly if they do this in public)
They can not search you or your pockets they need police present to do this.
Not sure on the restraint thing I presume if you were aggressive they could use reasonable force to stop you.
 

doug2709

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#5
The guys in supermarkets dont have much but i you didnt do any thing wrong dont argue, Put your self in there shoes if you were them and they said no then you would think they had something to hide?
What they may have though is the right to stop you from leaveing if they think you have stolen, If someone behaves argresive towards another person and they feel threatend they have the right to defend them selfs which may lead to that person being pinedto wall/floor.
If you are held its for the way you act not because what you are may or not have done if the shop is wrong then they should say sorry? Remember shop lifters want in and out so there actions will be different from someone who is innocent.
 

jim

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#6
You did the right thing in co-operating. Too many people take being challenged by a guard personally. A Security officer has no more authority than any other citizen in most states, although there are some states that make special provisions for retailers guards enforcing thefts from their places of business. Most guards or LPI's (loss prevention Investigators as they are called now) will stop you and ask something like "did you forget to pay for something sir?" If you were to say "no" and keep walking, they had better be certain you have taken an item illegally before detaining or searching you or you can sue for violation of your civil rights, but if you refuse to co-operate and say you had said "no just leave me alone" and you did not have a stolen item on you, then the retailer still has the right to refuse to sell to you next time you come into his establishment and he can also put a trespass order on you so that you are not allowed on the property again and you would be arrested and charged for trespass if you did enter. I think you did the exact right thing by co-operating, saves alot of time and hassle on everyones part. Just remember this next time, Losses from retail theft and shoplifting are all passed on to you the consumer which makes everything you by a hell of a lot more expensive, by having Loss prevention controls in place the retailers are just trying to control those losses which actually saves you and I (the honest, hardworking schmucks) money in the long run. Hope this helped.
The shop staff can arrest you if they reasonably suspect you of stealing. The alarm going off may or may not give them reason to reasonably suspect you. If it is always false alarming then they are not being reasonable when they arrest you. My advice is to refuse to stop, if they insist and arrest you then you can sue for lots of compensation:D By the way, you cannot be arrested for trespass, it is a civil offence.
 

Ste7en

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#7
Depends where you are in the UK as there is clear differences in English and Scottish Law.

Why would you want to take a security tag out of the shop with you? If you went into another store there is a good chance that you would trip the alarm and hack off some security guard who is just doing there job anyway.
 

rlpuk1

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#8
Just on a random note I had a guy that was going into stores and was ensuring that he had a tag on him just to test the response of the store and its Security Team. He was looking for compensation, Police got so fed up with him in the end that they did him for the theft of the security tag........
 
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#9
Hiya im one of those "guards" Isn't it in your own best interests to get the tag removed, if its on clothes and you get home you will most probably damage the goods trying to get it off. If the ets(electronic Tagging System) goes off most people who have nothing to hide, will return into the store and get the tag removed, they just show the receipt for proof of purchase and it gets removed - simple! An aplogy to the customer, I find always goes along way too.

Personally Its not worth the risk running after someone when the ETS goes off, someone could be in the store filling their boots with more expensive goods, or the offender could have a blade or a weapon. I see the ETS as a deterrant, and if someone is going to steal something expensive if your good at your job you would be already watching them before they got to the ETS anyway. I often work alone most of the time and I dont get paid enough to take those sort of risks. I take it your not in retail security, as you would know about the legal implications, it comes with the training. How do we know your not a shoplifter ha, Im not giving any secrets away. We are just doing our job, trying to prevent prices esculating and its its what we get paid to do.
 
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#10
The shop staff can arrest you if they reasonably suspect you of stealing. The alarm going off may or may not give them reason to reasonably suspect you. If it is always false alarming then they are not being reasonable when they arrest you. My advice is to refuse to stop, if they insist and arrest you then you can sue for lots of compensation:D By the way, you cannot be arrested for trespass, it is a civil offence.
I believe only the police can stop or restrain you for reasonabley suspecting you of a crime, or suspicion of any crime you may of commited. I might be wrong. I dont think PSCO's can arrest anyone for suspicion of a crime either they have to call for PC.
 

Colin

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#11
As an ex store detective and police officer I can tell you that to have the right to stop and detain you which in effect is an arrest they must have seen you commit an arrestable offence, ie theft. They do not have the power to arrest on suspicion. If the door alarm goes off when you exit again they must have seen you take an item conceal it and attempt to leave with out offer of payment. It is wise to let them check your receipt to check you have paid, but they have no rights of search unless they have arrested you for commiting an arrestable offence. Only a police officer can arrest or search on suspicion. Any security officer who holds an SIA badge should know this.
 

Mr-Ice-Man

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#12
As an ex store detective and police officer I can tell you that to have the right to stop and detain you which in effect is an arrest they must have seen you commit an arrestable offence, ie theft. They do not have the power to arrest on suspicion. If the door alarm goes off when you exit again they must have seen you take an item conceal it and attempt to leave with out offer of payment. It is wise to let them check your receipt to check you have paid, but they have no rights of search unless they have arrested you for commiting an arrestable offence. Only a police officer can arrest or search on suspicion. Any security officer who holds an SIA badge should know this.
Not sure how long you have been out of the police but the laws have changed so much lately.
If you have a Door Supervisor licence then you do have the right to search this came in at the start of the year.

I believe only the police can stop or restrain you for reasonabley suspecting you of a crime, or suspicion of any crime you may of commited. I might be wrong. I dont think PSCO's can arrest anyone for suspicion of a crime either they have to call for PC.
That is wrong not only police can stop you on suspicion but security can too aslong as you dont restain them. Also PSCOs can detain people but only for 10 minutes but security have the right to detain you till any time up untill he police arrive.
 
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#13
Mr ICe Man,
As in stop I meant to arrest,sorry if i did not make that clear. A security Guard can not arrest anyone on suspicion of full stop. You have to see them do it and be 100 per cent sure. You have to follow SCONE. Else you dont have a leg to stand on.
I was not sure about the police side of things, thats why I did say I may be wrong, and which you have corrected me.

Oh I am sorry to hear about the fruit situation you have going on.... maybe get a dedicated guard on the fruit.... I beleive that is theft by consumption. Another annoying one is when they eat sarnies around the store then decide they will not pay for them and leave the wrappers in the trolleys or baskets, and say oh it was there when i got the trolley or basket lol !!

Regards

Lildev666
 

Lietuvis

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#14
They can not search you or your pockets they need police present to do this..
ACTUALLY they can... but they must ask for your co-op if you disagree you will be probably restrained and police called in,and they will search you in the police station.:mad: And as someone said before you will almost for certain be banned from those premises,i have just recently entered into market of this type.. i mean UK and Ireland,when guards have less power.. In eastern Europe security officers (nobody calls them guards) would handcuff you and probably you pay at the spot for the stolen item,if not they would not call police they would call for emergency response unit (security) and they would bring you handcuffed to nearest station..


In uk and Ireland security has less powers then anywhere else,but they still have some powers,and don't forget its your word against them,they are "on duty" and their word is actually worth more.

Anyways,its best for all to co-op .. besides security is thankless job,so try to understand those poor guards ho are just doing their job...
 

jcrymer

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#15
In my time in Security, as store detective and in training (inc SIA), I was taught that you can not search anyone (Im talking retail here not Door Super.), even with their permission. Should you do so it could be assault. You could ask them to emply their pockets / bags.

You can arrest for an arrestable offence, eg theft, criminal damage, and once arrested use reasonable force to keep the person there or take them to an office while you deal with the offence, be that calling the police or not. You would not do this unless you were 100% sure that an offence had been commited. As already stated SCONE, see the item selected, the item concealed (or not), observation (unbroken), non-payment (pass by the tills), and exit the store.

Should you not be sure an offence has been commited, ie the ETS system goes off at the doors, and you start to seach someone, drag them to a back office etc, you and the company you work for could well be up for assault, false imprisement and false arrest.

If you suspect something, no harm in calling the police and see if they will stop and search, otherwise, just hope the member of the public is innocent will co-operate.
 

fightingrooster

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#16
Private security can detain or arrest if a felony has been committed in their presences. This is the same as a citizen's arrest for any normal joe. The security officer has to actually see the crime being committed. If the person being accused of a crime uses force against the officer, then the officer can respond with force. So' be careful criminal, your lawsuit may not fly very far.
 

fightingrooster

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#17
Private security can detain or arrest if a felony has been committed in their presences. This is the same as a citizen's arrest for any normal joe. The security officer has to actually see the crime being committed. If the person being accused of a crime uses force against the officer, then the officer can respond with force. So' be careful criminal, your lawsuit may not fly very far.
 

welshrod

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#18
Recently I got stopped at the alarm barrier at a supermarket because the cashier on the checkout didn't spot and remove a security tag. I was in a hurry but I cooperated anyway. Considering that I had paid for everything and was not committing a crime - did I have the right to just tell the security guard 'No - leave me alone!'? What rights do the guards have? Can they search me? Can they restrain me? Would that be considered assault and can I defend myself?

Thanks, Richard.
This was the first time I've posted on here - so I naively assumed that uk.answers.yahoo.com would put me in touch with English users. I've reposted with a clarification asking for advice on UK law.
Security officers have no more powers of arrest than any member of the public. In other words, the law says that ANY PERSON can arrest a person in the act of comitting certain offences (including theft), or where an offence has been comitted, arrest the person guilty of it. (very briefly). The security officer must be sure of the facts to make an arrest, where the police have reasonable suspicion to use. Most security officers will not make an arrest unless they have witnessed the offence take place and are sure they are right.
There is no legal right to search anyone, its done by consent only.
Force reasonable in the circumstances can be used to make an arrest, or to escort someone off the premises if the owner or his representative (manager) requests it.
 

aimhigh

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#19
Hay guys

As someone who has been out of the UK since the whole SIA came fully into effect I am aware that things have changed, however prior to moving out here (ME) I was involved with training via the then SITO and one issue that was an issue in security was the powers of arrest.

Namely its title is 'citizen's arrest' and to do a citizen's arrest you should be a British citizen this of course was a major problem in the security guarding world due to the large amount of non citizens in the guarding game.

Is this still an issue or has there been changes to allow it or ways adopted to get around the issue.

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