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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71031
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was detained yesterday for more than an hour in an Asda store

Customer Question

I was detained yesterday for more than an hour in an Asda store by their security team just because i refused to show my receipt to a man wearing a high visibility jacket at the exit to the store. He never identified himself as an employee of Asda and prevented me from leaving by holding my trolley, called security who also prevented me leaving, they then insisted i be detained in their security office whilst they checked things out. They never made specific allegations regarding shoplifting to me, and merely detained me for not showing my receipt, i insisted they call the police and informed them that my detention was illegal as i had done nothing wrong and that they had made no specific criminal accusations against me. When the police arrived they asked to check my receipt even though no allegations of shoplifting had been made. I told them that as officers of the law i felt morally obliged to co-operate with them even though they had not been presented with evidence that i had committed an offence, i showed them my receipt which they checked against my good purchased and was allowed to leave.
My question is have Asda committed an offence against me and how should i seek redress.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

Why didn't you show him a receipt?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

He never identified himself as an employee of the company and had no right to see it. No notices were present to say that a condition of shopping at the store was that they retained the right to ask to see your receipt on exit, and as far as i am aware to detain someone on suspicion of committing an offence requires evidence. Refusal to show a receipt to a complete stranger is not sufficient grounds for detention.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
But why did you refuse ?

You did have a receipt?

How did showing him your receipt cause you disadvantage?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
Actually, don't worry. I probably know enough to give you the answer.

I am sorry but you have no case at all.

The first problem is that they didn't detain you. All they did was hold your trolley which is ultimately their property anyway. You were free to leave. They didn't lay hands upon you.

The second is that I'm afraid a court is likely to take the view that refusal to show a receipt is unreasonable. Ultimately who else but a company employee would be standing at their exits in a high viz jacket asking to check receipts. He will say that he did identify himself anyway but even if he didn't it was obvious upon reasonable inspection that he was acting at the request of the company.

Also, quite frankly, even if a complete stranger had asked to view your receipt I'm afraid a court might think that allowing him to do so would cause no prejudice.

I'm very sorry but thats your position.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

they did detain me, they took my trolley which was full of my property, refused to let me go, marched me back into the store through the main entrance and insisted i remain in their security office whilst they investigated. They posted a guard outside and i felt afraid and intimidated which is why i insisted they call the police.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

Best of luck in court then.

I'm afraid I've given you my view of this.