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Jamie-Law, Solicitor
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Experience:  Solicitor
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Yesterday I was stopped on a public street in Bolton town

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Yesterday I was stopped on a public street in Bolton town centre, by security staff working on behalf of Debenhams store, just after closing time and was accused of shop lifting. One of the security personnel (a female) was quite abusive in attitude and treated me from the first instance as if I was guilty, I was told that CCTV cameras had evidenced I had goods in my bag which had not been paid for. I subsequently demanded the presence of a police officer to evidence the fact that I had visa receipts for all my goods and explained that regardless of any CCTV evidence it could not possibly show me shop lifting as I was totally innocent and have never in my life been a thief.To be brief, a few minutes later I was told the police had arrived at the store so I agreed to go to the store offices, after walking down the street, accompanied by the security guards the male guard suddenly said "the allegations have been retracted", no apologise etc "just you are free to go". The extremely rude female security guard would not even give me her name but I do have details regarding the other male guard in attendance who was more co-operative, he said "it not the first time they have retracted allegations". This is the 2nd time in the last 3 years I have been stopped for theft, last time by Curry's Electrical Store, when I was actually still walking round inside their store, I again requesting the police attend to proved my innocence, due to staff in that instance refusing to even watch their CCTV, making excuses that it was (a) not working on the relevant aisle on which I had stolen goods? and (b) the camera was locked in an office and they did not have the key?, one of the police officers commented after proving my innocence that he did not believe these excuses. I was given a form by the police officers to prove that I was not in possession of any stolen goods, I wanted to take a complaint forwards but I had at that point just recently lost my mum and was not mentally up to dealing with the situation, but for the past 3 years I have not been able to let go of how demeaning it made me feel at a time in my life when I was already struggling to cope with a bereavement and bullying at work. On this current occasion I want to take the matter further legally, my friend was speaking to me on the phone when I was stopped so she actually listened to what was being said and immediately drove in to town to be with me because she knew I was distressed at their accusations and she also 100% knew that there would not even be a remote possibility of me being guilty of any type of dishonesty. I am 56 years old I am mixed race in origin and have always lived my life as a law abiding citizen, I am a qualified college lecturer, and also ran my own business for many years and have always been of good character. due to the withdrawal of the accusation I did not actually see a police officer. I subsequently phoned GRT-MAN Police to check if they had actually attended the Debenhams store and have been informed that they were not requested to attend, I have the number of the officer whom I spoke with on the enquiry. my current conclusion from this information is that I was actually lied to: ***** ***** Debenhams staff members who obviously do not know how to monitor a camera efficiently? or the security personnel? who informed me via information on their radios that that the police had arrived?. I cannot believe I did not even get some kind of formal apology and for this to happen on 2 separate occasions I am left feeling totally violated, I feel that if I complain to the Bolton Debenhams branch the incident will be (swept under the carpet) I want to make a stronger stance and I feel I should be given a formal written apology and some form of compensation for how I have been made to feel, I am so upset, I am currently off work with depression and this incident will exacerbate my symptoms. On the street yesterday during the incident I had people staring at me as if I was a common thief, I know hundreds of people in my local town due to my past roles as a town centre business owner and also as a lecturer in both the private sector and at Bolton Community College. I am totally capable of drafting a complaint letter but I feel my complaint will be taken much more seriously if it is on legally headed paper and I think I would like to go via the route of the Head Complaints Office in London, not just to placate my own current feelings but to hopefully prevent the Bolton based store from accusing any other innocent individuals, before obviously checking their CCTV properly which would have shown me paying for my goods at the tills. Please note I have my till payment receipts in my possession for the goods, and they have the date and precise times listed. Please could you possible give me some advice on how to proceed, I would be most grateful for any advice given especially in reference to any legal terms relating to this type of incident/allegations.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

What is it you want to achieve please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As stated, I would be most grateful for any advice given especially in reference to any legal terms relating to this type of incident/allegations.

Legally you can't sue for compensation. You can not be arrested by these people, as they have no power.

However you can be detained, otherwise they would not be able to stop true shop lifters and bouncers would not be able to stop violent people in night clubs.

However they need to be satisfied that an balance you may have committed an offence. They do not have to be absolutely sure.

You say about checking cctv, clearly they would not have time to roll back the tape, play it, consider and then identify any suspicious activity.

They only have a split second to say, hold on a second does something look off here.

Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, as these are people looking at cameras etc and they can make a mistake.

But the store is likely to give you a little bit of compensation, maybe £50 or so.

But are they allowed by law to stop you, yes.

I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want, nor the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As I mentioned previously I am of mixed race origin and I feel I am being targeted for this reason. There are no white members of my family who have EVER been stopped for suspected theft,so I feel there must be some form of personal discriminatory suspicions and factors involved, especially in regards ***** ***** accused on more than 1 occasions. I purchased 3 separate items and each time I went to the till points and made my payment, so I fail to see how this type of mistake could have possible been made. The store was closing and there was hardly anyone else in the store when I made my purchases, there would have literally been hardly anyone else to monitor on the CCTV in the store at that point in time. I was actually locked in the store for a couple of minutes prior to leaving because the exit doors were locked and a member of staff had to get them unlocked, so at this point, had they wished to question me, they could have done so, without trying to make a public spectacle of the event/incident. The female security officer treated me like a condemned criminal re-guilty until proven innocent, she was accusative and verbally very aggressive in manner, all which took place in front of the general public walking past, approximately 200 meters from the store on a busy public street facing a branch of MacDonald's. I have always been led to believe a person is innocent until proven guilty to correspond with the British Judicial Laws not the other way round. Also there is the fact that I was lied to, regarding the police being summons to the store, surely this must break some form of law relating to the stores consumer right policy's, or can big corporate companies make up there own rules and be allowed to lie relating to when they actually stated that "the police had arrived and were in the office waiting for me". Surely they cannot expect honesty off members of the public and then blatantly lie themselves, also the security staff should be trained to behave in a none discriminatory manner when dealing with a member of the public who is not in any manner or form trying to run away. The only request that I made was to have my receipts witnessed by a normal independent source which is why I eventually requested a police officer, Initially I did try to stop a few members of the public walking past but they obviously thought I was a criminal and would not stop to assist. The only person who actually stopped was a totally inebriated woman, whom the female security guard suggested I should use as a witness. this is what I consider to be an absolute insult to my intelligence, at which point I replied that I would like a normal person (re- a none inebriated person) and the woman actually stated herself that she is in no way normal. I need a bit more detail in regards ***** ***** reply on the matter of racial selection and discrimination, attitude of the female security staff member and the fact that I was lied to.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
please see message above.

If you have been stopped because of your race then this is illegal.

You should report it to the Police so these people can be prosecuted.

You should not let them get away with it and look to sue them for the extreme distress and show them that racism in the UK will NOT be tolerated.

You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.

If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: or by completing form N1 and take it to your local County Court.

The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.

If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do any laws apply in respect to the Debenhams staff telling lies regarding my request for police presence? Thank you for all the other information you have currently forwarded.

No. Its not defamation.

Does that clarify?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It does clarify legally, but ethically it is dishonesty, so in this regard I will have to pursue information relevant to the companies police relating to the credibility of verbal statements made by their employees. I am left to ponder on the thought of what else they are prepared to lie about in connection with this incident?. one last request have I got the legal rights to seek a copy of the CCTV footage, it would be so convenient for the evidence to go amiss, especially when dealing with dishonest personnel!! I will enter your rating after the final requested answer> Thank you for your assistance.

You only have a right under the Data Protection Act.

Does that clarify?

If I could ask you to rate my answer before you go today, by clicking on the 5 stars or happy face, otherwise the site does not pay me for the time spent with you today. Thank you in advance and good luck!

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