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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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HelloI'd like to understand the legal standpoint and my

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Hello I'd like to understand the legal standpoint and my rights on the following matter please? I'd like to know if there is any value or benefit of taking this further.

Sorry, I didn't realise I had got through to family Law. I need to speak to someone regarding in store security protocals and being wrongly accused of shop lifting. I need to understand my rights. Can you help?

I have a pre-prepared dialogue which I can copy and paste.

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I may be able to help you if you explain a bit more.



I'd like to understand the legal standpoint and my rights on the following matter please? I'd like to know if there is any value or benefit of taking this further.

The following incident occurred between 3 and 4 PM Saturday 10/01/2015 at Morrison's Supermarket, Guiseley, Leeds, West Yorkshire.

I bought a selection of Marks & Spencers goods from the M&S store and made a very short journey across the road to Morrison's supermarket. I was on foot at the time so I had no option but to carry my M&S food into the store.

I then proceeded to buy and pay for a small number of goods within the supermarket. I paid for the goods at the self-service checkout but to prevent misleading the weighing scales I placed my M&S goods on the floor.

Once finished I picked up my M&S and Morrisons branded carriers bags and walked towards the exit.

The security guard stopped me before the exit and asked to see my receipts in full public view. There was also a grocery assistant with him.

I gave him my receipts and he checked. He then asked me to open my Marks & Spencers branded carrier bag and pulled out the Marks & Spencers branded Sirloin steak and in these exact words he said, 'can you tell me why you haven't paid for this steak'. I snatched it from him and point out that I had bought it from Marks & Spencers. I then proceeded to take out further items and point out that they also were bought from Marks & Spencers because; ironically they were being carried in a Marks & Spencers carrier bag. The security guard admitted his mistake and apologised.

In my view they had no right, reason or justification to do this. The carrier was clearly marked with the M&S logo and every item within the bag was clearly marked with the M&S logo.

There was no ambiguity whatsoever, I had done nothing wrong.

To add further context of the narrative; I did not enter the butchery department and therefore didn't browse the meat at any point. So knowing this, it was not feasible for me physically take any meat from the counter. So they had no evidence of me taking anything because none existed. So this backs up the idea that they had no justifications to stop me. i.e. they can't claim 'we saw him in the butchers department and we felt he took some meat' as it simply didn't happen. Besides, I had already bought all the meat from M&S, so it hadn't entered my mind to visit the butchers department.

The point I'm emphasising here is that it means I wasn't being watched and the only reasons to stop me were based on observations made at the checkout (so basically they were guessing).

I'd like to know the following.

1. Does a supermarket have the legal right to stop a person before the exit (without any reason or justification, because technically I hadn't left the store)?
2. Does a supermarket have the legal right to search someone in full public view (without any reason or justification)?
3. Does Morrisons have the legal right to ACCUSE someone of shoplifting Marks & Spencers goods from their supermarket (of course this last comment is rather tongue in cheek but is the crux of the mattter in my view, as I would have allowed the situation to rest if this accusation hadn't been made).
4. What is the security protocol that Morrisons adopt and does it reflect the points above?

I have worked in store on Beers, Wines and Spirits for 7 years and worked closely with security. I was warned that if you suspect customers of shoplifting then you need to adhere to particular procedures otherwise the store is liable for prosecution themselves. Is my understanding correct?


Julian Horsley

LondonlawyerJ :

1 a supermarket can ask someone to stop and if they have reasonable grounds for believing that a crime has been committed they would be able to use reasonable force to detain you. They can do this in the area between the checkout and the exit from the store.

LondonlawyerJ :

2 I don't think you were searched. He asked you what was in your bag and ot see your receipts and your showed them. Had you refused he could not have taken them off you but would have had to call police and they could then do so.

LondonlawyerJ :

3. If the security guard thinks someone has stolen from the shop he can approach them and talk to them. It may well be better for you than being taken to a private room away from the safety of other members of the public.

LondonlawyerJ :

4 I have been involved in defending many many shoplifting cases and some assault by security guard cases over the years and have never once come across a security protocol. I doubt one exists.

LondonlawyerJ :

The store have not broken any laws that I can see here.

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello, is there anything else I can help you with? I would be grateful if you would please rate my service to you as if you do to do so I will not get paid for my answer to you.

Customer: Ok thanks for the reply.
Customer: let me summarise the situation then and get back to you. I'll rate you now........
LondonlawyerJ and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
In summary therefore a store can prosecute for shoplifting but there is no law protecting the customer from incompetence? .i.e Harassment or wrongful accusation. So they can can do what they please as long as it's not assault or anything more serious than that. My 10 year could have done a better job, come to think of it Inspector Cleasour couldn't do any worse! Anyway thanks for your time.