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Shopping bag security searches
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SElady


Posts: 43
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Post: #1
11-03-2013 05:59 PM

Have been hearing reports that Tesco in Sydenham has rather over zealous security guards who have been randomly stopping and searching the bags of ordinary shoppers - question is what are our rights if we are stopped and asked for our bags to be searched - you could say "if you have not stolen anything you should not be worried" but you are being "accused" of stealing something and of you have not done anything wrong why should you be stopped and searched ie what is the reason you were stopped if no one had seen you take anything = question = is it legal and shoud we be compliant?

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jollyrog


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Post: #2
12-03-2013 07:22 AM

If you don't want to be searched, don't consent to the search.

If you were stopped randomly as opposed to the security officer having a genuine belief that you've stolen something, I'd say it's game over at that point.

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Sherwood


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Post: #3
12-03-2013 09:04 AM

Is the noise machine going off as people exit?

Various other devices can trigger it!

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bensonby


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Post: #4
12-03-2013 10:36 PM

The only person that can forcibly stop and search you is a police officer* and only then if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have some form of prohibited item on you: for example, stolen property, drugs, weapons etc. If you refuse to allow a police officer to search you when he is lawfully doing so the police officer may use reasonable force to undertake the search and if you obstruct them in the search you commit a specific criminal offence.

That said, anyone can walk up to anyone else and say "can I have a quick look in your bag please and you may, of course, allow them to. Interestingly, police officers do not have the power to undertake a voluntary search - it's either got to be a statutory power or nothing. If you refuse to allow a security guard or whoever not to look in your bag then they are not allowed to use any force to compel you to and you would not have broken the law. However, any premises can make it a submitting to a search condition of allowing you on the premises or continuing to remain on the premises. Examples of this might be nightclubs that insist on search before entry. Even in these cases the search can be refused and force cannot be used to effect a search - the typical net result of a refusal would be that your invitation to remain on the premises or continue your business would be revoked and you would be asked to leave. If you refused to leave then the agent of the landlord of the premises where you are can use reasonable force to remove you as you would be a trespasser.

In this specific example - where a door alarm etc goes off - that, of itself, would not even provide grounds for a stop and search even if a police officer was present. A security guard can use reasonable force to detain someone pending the arrival of the police if that person has stolen something. The guard would have to have rather better grounds than a refusal to have your bag searched.

In terms of what I would do if challenged it would really all depend on the attitude of the security guard speaking to me. If I hadn't taken anything (which obviously I wouldn't) and the person was being an idiot then I'd, personally, just walk off. If they then tried to physically do anything they'd be finding themselves in a police-cell pretty sharpish. I'd advise to tell them in a clear, loud, voice to stop what they are doing, ask them if they are detaining me (hopefully whilst recording on my phone) and if they said yes then I'd make a complaint regarding unlawful imprisonment (or kidnap if they insisted on taking me to a back office).

There is a final - rather more helpful point to make - in that if alarms are going off because the cashier hasn't taken the security tag off of your bottle of Whisky then it might be useful to allow it to be taken off so you can enjoy it when you get home!


*except in some special circumstances such as prison officers in prisons etc.

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SElady


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Post: #5
13-03-2013 10:50 PM

Thank you all for your very useful replies. I have now heard of one lady who has been stopped three times in as many weeks, on no occasion did any alarm go off and in each occasion she had paid for all the goods in her bags as usual. The guard simply said he had reason to believe she had taken an item without paying for it, which she had not. She has now decided not to shop there anymore.

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jollyrog


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Post: #6
13-03-2013 11:17 PM

That's a cop out. The real way to deal with it is to front the Security bunny, say "no" to the search and threaten all sorts of complaints of harassment to both Sainsburys and the police.

Just say no, the law is on your side, if you're not a thief.

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BT


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Post: #7
14-03-2013 07:55 AM

We were stopped at Sainsbury's in Sydenham a while ago, after we had paid for our shopping, because in the Security man's words "You haven't got your shopping in bags". We always just put our stuff straight back in the trolley and put it in our own bags back at the car, thereby not using carrier bags as we are constantly asked to do.

You just can't win Rolleyes

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Perryman


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Post: #8
16-03-2013 12:56 PM

Quote:
n this specific example - where a door alarm etc goes off - that, of itself, would not even provide grounds for a stop and search even if a police officer was present.


Excellent advice there bensonby.

I have no idea how sophisticated these door alarms are, but if they identified a specific item that had not been detagged, would that be grounds for a police search?
It is speculative searches that need to be controlled, but in this case it would be quite specific.

I can only imagine shop systems becoming more complex in the future, so this will be an interesting area to watch.

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bensonby


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Post: #9
16-03-2013 01:27 PM

I think it would depend - on how sophisticated the alarm system is, whether a staff member could have feasibly just forgotten to take a tag off or whether something else could set the alarm going.

A police officer would have to look at the whole circumstances and make a decision. The police officer would have to be satisfied that there are "reasonable grounds to suspect" that the person has a stolen item on them.

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Sherwood


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Post: #10
18-03-2013 07:49 AM

Police can arrest on suspicion. Citizens may only make a valid arrest when an arrestable offence has actuially been committed.

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