Advice on arresting shoplifters

#1
Firstly apologies if this is in the wrong forum, it seemed the most appropriate to me

I know there are one or two policemen of various constabularies posting on this means so I have a question.

What if any are the powers of 'arrest' for a shop employee when dealing with a shoplifter?

What proof is needed to make such an 'arrest'?

And what are the consequences under the law for said employee should they get it wrong?

Well three questions then

Thanks in advance for any help that may be forthcoming

Zippy483
 
#2
Technically, the only difference between a police officer and a member of the public as far as arrest is concerned is that the police officer can act on "reasonable suspicion" but the MOP can't.
An MOP must KNOW that an offence has been committed and must KNOW that the person they arrest is the offender.
A police officer can REASONABLY SUSPECT each of the above.

The offence of theft is complicated to prove as it is "dishonestly appropriating property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". Each element must be proved - dishonesty, appropriation etc. Each of those words alone takes up pages and pages of any criminal law book and the interpretation constantly changes as judges make decisions based on individual cases that then become "case law".

The consequences for an employee getting it wrong are realistically facing proceedings in civil court (i.e. being sued) as opposed to criminal court, not least as the aggrieved would get much greater financial reward from bringing a civil case and because of the lower standard of proof required in civil court. The no-win no-fee solicitors would be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of sueing the employee's company who could afford a big payout!

So basically, no easy answer I'm afraid!
 
#3
Shop employees have the "any person" power open to all.

If it is reasonably suspected an offence has taken place any person may arrest the person they reasonably suspect.

The level of proof needed would be a realistic suspicion based on observations, and not just, for example, based on previous knowledge of the suspect. Store detectives (loss prevention officers) are usually, in my experience, very good at this, know the law well, and act correctly and reasonably, (and have written a good statement and provided costs etc. for the goods all before we arrive) it is untrained employees and managers that walk all over established criteria, and actually make the subsequent prosecution more difficult by their actions (example, detaining 3 or 4 juvenile females, and removing all their bags etc. and emptying them all onto the floor of the office in one pile. This makes it difficult to near impossible to prove who had what when they all deny it and blame each other.)

In practice it is best to allow the suspect to leave the premises, that way the offence is complete, and we have removed the possible defence of intent to pay, however the other aspects will play a role, for example if the item is concealed etc.

The possible repercussions should an employee "get it wrong" depends on your definition of "get it wrong". If they have had a reasonable suspicion, and made an arrest, but it subsequently turns out no offence has taken place then that is the end of the matter, but if they rugby tackle some scrote because they do not like the look of them, and "their sort are always thieving, etc., etc." then they can face criminal proceedings for assault and other offences.
 
#4
I have the misfortune to work for one of the Big Four supermarkets. My advice, based on painful experiance is: don't bother. Unless you are security, you're not getting paid to make a citizen's arrest of some wothless, disease-carrying junkie who will not hesitate to bite, punch, kick, stab or spit on you.
Also it is bloody difficult to restrain someone without hitting them a good shot first. The restraint holds the police use only work if it's two or more coppers arresting one scumbag. Or if the CS the twat first. In a square-go Police control and restraint techniques are as useful as a paper condom. I once saw a policeman get four teeth knocked out while trying to restrain a junkie shoplifter(I was running after the second shoplifter - I was younger and even more stupid then).
Bottom line: if you do it wrong you'll get hurt. If you do it right you'll get arrested. The police lose all sense of humour when someone "takes the law into their own hands".
Silly me; I thought it was our law to begin with. After all, we pay for it.
 
#5
Gentlemen and Ladies, the Only people who have the Power of arrest are the police. There is no such thing as "Citzens Arrest"

Anyone else may Detain someone until the police arive. I belive you can only do that for crimes which would catch 3 years or more, but I'm not so sure about that.

During the process of detaining them you may use Resonable force.

You should always start carmley and NEVER use force first, do not even touch them. If they Leg it, remember as much detail as you can and pass that onto the coppers.

Be aware though I wouldn't do anything unless you have a good source of evidence that the person is the criminal. CCTV of the act is always a good one. Another note on shop lifting, I belive you have to show evidence that the suspect had no intention of paying for it. The best way to prove this is to let him get out of the front door first.

There is also a little caution that you should do if your doing it by the book.
 
#6
Listy said:
Gentlemen and Ladies, the Only people who have the Power of arrest are the police. There is no such thing as "Citzens Arrest"

.
Thats strange, why did we study it on my law degree then?

What has been said previously is correct, the main problem comes in the fact that when you touch somebody without them wanting you to it is assault, so if you have got it wrong the police could get you on it. Seems unlikely that the CPS would prosecute though, unless you had been heavy handed or had an ulterior motive ie racism.
 
#7
Err, what about common law duties, e.g. to prevent a breach of the peace?
 
#9
jest265 said:
Thats strange, why did we study it on my law degree then?
I Can't help what you may or may not have studdied... :lol:

However Calling it a "Citzens Aresst" is wrong becuase only the police can arrest. Sorry but I'm going to stick with what I have been taught.

BTW: You don't even need to touch them for an assault charge. Just demonstrate the will and intent to cuase actual harm. But you already know that, right?
 
#10
Sorry, Listy, but you're not quite correct there mate.

There is an "any person" power of arrest (a "Citizen's Arrest") and a Constable's power of arrest. The posters above have already very accurately described the difference so I shan't repeat them again.

The first thing you learn as a copper is the difference between an any person and constable's power of arrest. In the context that citizen's have the right to arrest, and your power is only different in the context of suspicion.

Anybody can detain ("arrest") a person for theft as long as the conditions above are met. As to law regarding assault during arrest, well the interpretation of reasonable force may be occasionally barmy but my personal experience is that most retail staff are well looked-after by the courts in these circumstances, and civil actions for assault are often robustly defended by bigger retailers. However, leave it to the security people and then call the police to formally nick them. Some store detectives are extremely capable and write their own statements and just hand over prisoners; others aren't. The increasing regulation of the private security industry should raise these standards.

The other factor not mentioned yet is that some offences are "arrestable" and some aren't, and are usually dealt with by way of summons. A constable may, under certain conditions, arrest a person for one of these (s.25 PACE).

Theft is arrestable by virtue of statute and the maximum sentence.

Hope that clears it up.

V!
 
#12
Vegetius said:
my personal experience is that most retail staff are well looked-after by the courts in these circumstances

This is very true, given that a couple of years ago, Littlewoods and Argos were fined £20 million for running a price-fixing cartel. I'm not sure that arresting the perpetrators (citizen's or constable's) was considered the way forward, neither was a corporate charge that may have put them in prison (to share a cell with one of those dangerous individuals who had been removed from our streets for stealing 3 tins of pedigree chum?)
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
Listy said:
Gentlemen and Ladies, the Only people who have the Power of arrest are the police. There is no such thing as "Citzens Arrest"

Anyone else may Detain someone until the police arive. I belive you can only do that for crimes which would catch 3 years or more, but I'm not so sure about that.

There is also a little caution that you should do if your doing it by the book.
So all those horrible nasty drug (and other) smugglers charged under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 can only be arrested by our friends in the Shiney Blue Suits can they? That'll come as something of a shock to the Law Enforcement Officers in HM Revenue & Customs.
 
#15
Mr_Fingerz said:
Listy said:
Gentlemen and Ladies, the Only people who have the Power of arrest are the police. There is no such thing as "Citzens Arrest"

Anyone else may Detain someone until the police arive. I belive you can only do that for crimes which would catch 3 years or more, but I'm not so sure about that.

There is also a little caution that you should do if your doing it by the book.
So all those horrible nasty drug (and other) smugglers charged under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 can only be arrested by our friends in the Shiney Blue Suits can they? That'll come as something of a shock to the Law Enforcement Officers in HM Revenue & Customs.
Quite right. Isnt it the case that "the knock" have powers over and above that of the Police?
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Yep.

Powers of entry, seizure, assessment, and of course arrest.

The Writ of Assistance is a wonderful document too - it's a general search warrant issued by the High Court to HMRC. Not used very frequently - HMRC prefer to get sworn warrants from a JP where they can - but the nuclear option is very handy to have.
 
#17
One word of warning, make sure you pick your spot carefully to "have words" with them.

Quite a few years ago before I joined the Army, I worked for a DIY chain and confronted a shoplifter after I clearly saw him pocketing stuff off the shelves. I approached said scrote and quite politely asked him to put the stuff back and, while he was at it, please fcuk off and never come back. Unfortunately, I didn't pick my spot very well as his response was to pick up a lump hammer off the shelf beside him and take a swing at my head with it.

Thankfully I dodged the blow, otherwise I would either be in a rather cramped box or typing this using the same machine Stephen Hawking does and dribbling a lot.

Anyway, without even thinking about it I proceeded to lay him out with possibly one of the best punches I have ever thrown. There happened to be another customer nearby who backed up my side of the story and no further action was taken apart from taking my statement etc. When the police arrived they realised that I had acted in self defence and it was clear that he had been shoplifting as his pockets were full of stuff.

The only down side of the whole thing was that I got a telling off from the manager for not obeying store policy - I should have fetched him so that he could waddle down from his office and deal with the shoplifter himself. I didn't do this as I'd tried his method before and he took so long moving his fat arrse that the scumbag did one before he arrived. He also decided not to renew my contract after that, probably as I would not accept that I had done anything wrong when he tried to give me a formal warning over it. He was a fat nobber and didn't even have the guts to look me in the eye while giving me the sack. He sat behind his desk and read from the official script for non-renewal of contract (I kid you not).

At least now I'm in the Army where I get proper bollockings, there is nothing more pathetic than a superior who cannot put the fear of God into you when they need to!
 
#18
BlotBangRub said:
Well said Vegetius, and can I ask what qualifications Listy has to twice correct me on this point of law?
Listy has been an end user of the law for 6 years.
Listy Corected you twice, and has only been proven wrong once. :roll:
Listy was taught wrong.
Listy is a rent'a'cop
Listy is also GOD!
 
#19
Kick them in the tatties!
 
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