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Kadzi

Shop Alarm Security Arrest

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Kadzi

Could an EAS (electronic article surveillance) alarm give security staff reasonable grounds to any persons arrest for theft if the shopper did not want to return to the store, or to be searched by security? Bare in mind, they have not witnessed any theft. Only the alarm has sounded on somebody exiting.

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Funkywingnut

No

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Sceptre

The core question is can the alarm in itself amount to reasonable grounds to suspect that a person passing through it is in the act of stealing, and the answer is potentially. A knife arch can amount to reasonable grounds for a constable to search someone for weapons after all, even though most of us legitimately carry metal in our pockets, or a custody officer might reasonably justify a strip-search based on the activation of a metal detector waved over the body. 

Whether it does or does not depends on the circumstances. Does the guard believe the device to be reliable, or is it unreliable and goes off all the time? Are tags left on from other shops often setting it off? Is the person in question the only one passing through it at the time, or merely one of five? Are there other factors which increase the guard's suspicion; furtiveness, hiding their face from CCTV, misshapen clothing, making off when it sounds etc? Ultimately false alarms on these gates are pretty common, most of us will have it happen to us at some stage, and so given the potential liability that comes with depriving someone of their liberty it would be an unwise guard who chose to arrest someone based on nothing more than the alarm sounding.

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BlueBob
21 hours ago, Kadzi said:

Could an EAS (electronic article surveillance) alarm give security staff reasonable grounds to any persons arrest for theft if the shopper did not want to return to the store, or to be searched by security? Bare in mind, they have not witnessed any theft. Only the alarm has sounded on somebody exiting.

We could probably come up with a range of info that could persuade youth the power (S24A PACE0 might apply.  For my two peneth, with the number of times I have paid for goods and as I have left the store, have found that the security tag had not fully been deactivated, and it was a false alarm, I would question if they are a real and viably reliable indicator that the person who has activated the alarm was a thief.  For those involved in store detection, and who come across these devices, the greater number of false calls and the more false alarms they encounter, I might offer that these false call be seen as assisting in forming the view that a theft has not occurred, rather it is a cashier / administrative error.  On that basis, also reducing the reasonable thought that the offence has been committed.  

Rather likes the days of old, when the bank alarms used to be sounded regularly at 9.01am for 3 days a week. The alarm was more reliable indicator that the staff had not switched the alarm off properly rather the slightest hint than the alarm sounding and  it being a indicator that a real robbery was in progress. (If that you appreciate what I am trying to say)

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ParochialYokal

The power of 'any person' arrest might best be viewed through the lens of past or present, as the powers are different. 

In relation to the present, any person may arrest someone that they suspect to be committing an indictable offence (whether or not one has been committed). Within the context of shop lifting, that would mean that someone could be arrested whilst they are suspected  to be in the act. Shop lifting is an offence that is arguably a 'continuing act'. The act starts when they conceal the item and the act ends generally when they leave the store. It is during this window that an arrest would more than likely be lawful. However, if the person has left the store and the security guard has had to run across a car park to catch up with them then it would probably be too late, as the offence would have already been committed. 

In the case of R v Lockley [1995] , a shop lifter was convicted of robbery as he used violence after being confronted by the security guard. Lockley argued that the theft was complete at the time he was violent and appealed. However, the Court ruled that theft is a continuing act and, as such, he was still in the act of committing theft when he was confronted and the conviction for robbery was upheld. 

If the theft is in the past (rather than in the present), then any person can only arrest someone that they suspect of being guilt if an indictable offence has been committed. There would be no way of knowing that the offence has been completed- as such, you would be proceeding on very dodgy grounds. If it turns out that the offence had been committed, then the person making the arrest would be covered. If it transpired that there was no offence, then they may find themselves in the smelly stuff. 

 

 

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