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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My partner and I have been falsely accused of shoplifting a

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Hello, My partner and I have been falsely accused of shoplifting a bottle of wine from a local Sainsbury’s store. We did not steal the wine and we don’t even drink! We have had issues with the same security guard previously. We were not stopped on the night of the accusation (Wednesday 13th May) but three nights later. I wrote a long email of complaint on Tuesday 19th. I was told on Thursday 21st that a crime did take place and they’ve referred it to the Police. There are two things I want to make sure of. Firstly that we don’t end up with a criminal record. It’s imperative that we head it off now, rather than try to reverse it once it’s in place. Secondly, I want to make sure that all of Sainsbury’s footage is stored and made available to us to view. Not just the footage where it apparently looks like we have stolen something, but all of it. The store manager on Saturday night apparently said that they’d looked at all of the evidence and it wasn’t clear. Therefore I want to make sure that all of the evidence is stored and not over-written or deleted.
How can we ensure this? Kind regards, Lucye did not steal the wine and we don’t even drink! We have had issues with the same security guard previously. We were not stopped on the night of the accusation (Wednesday 13th May) but three nights later. I wrote a long email of complaint on Tuesday 19th. I was told on Thursday 21st that a crime did take place and they’ve referred it to the Police. There are two things I want to make sure of. Firstly that we don’t end up with a criminal record. It’s imperative that we head it off now, rather than try to reverse it once it’s in place. Secondly, I want to make sure that all of Sainsbury’s footage is stored and made available to us to view. Not just the footage where it apparently looks like we have stolen something, but all of it. The store manager on Saturday night apparently said that they’d looked at all of the evidence and it wasn’t clear. Therefore I want to make sure that all of the evidence is stored and not over-written or deleted.
How can we ensure this? Kind regards, Lucy
JA: Have any charges been filed? If so, when is the next court date?
Customer: No
JA: Where did this occur?
Customer: Please read my message.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: This took place in Leeds.

Hi, welcome to JustAnswer. My name is*****’m a barrister with 12 years of experience and I am happy to help with your question today.

How can I help?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hi Jo, sorry for my garbled initial message. I’ll set it all out in full again now. Hang on...

I just need to know what your question is

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hello,My partner and I have been falsely accused of shoplifting a bottle of wine from a local Sainsbury’s store. We didn’t steal the bottle; we don’t even drink!We were not stopped on the night of the accusation (Wednesday 13th May). We were stopped three nights later (on Saturday 16th May) in a different store, but the same security guard was on duty.On Saturday night after completing our shop we were taken to the manager’s office, had our bag searched for no reason (obviously there was nothing to be found) and we were told we had been caught stealing and they have the evidence on CCTV.We haven’t been able to see this footage to understand how this could have happened. I recall pointing at three cans of Heineken zero (as we had just bought 6 from M&S earlier in the day).While we were waiting, the manager, Nicola, called the manager of the local store where the supposed incident took place (I don’t know who this was). Nicola told us that that manager there had looked at all the footage and had concluded that the evidence was not clear. Nicola apologised to us and we left.On Tuesday 19th May I sent a long email of complaint to Sainsbury’s, for the accusation and for the appalling way that this had been handled. We felt under suspicion by the security guard previously and I’d confronted him about this, I believe on Monday 11th May. I set all this out in the email.I received a holding reply from a more senior manager, Ali, on Wednesday 20th, so the next day. On Thursday 21st I spoke to him and he told me as though a fait accompli that a crime as I’ve described had taken place. He said the CCTV footage had been given to the police only to confirm that the people who committed the crime were the same people the security guard stopped in the store on Saturday night. (We know he’s accusing us).There are two things I want to make sure of. Firstly that we don’t end up with a criminal record. How do we go about ensuring this given the circumstanes? What do need to do? It’s imperative that we head it off now, rather than try to reverse it once it’s in place.Secondly, I want to make sure that all of Sainsbury’s footage is stored and made available to us to view. Not just the footage where it apparently looks like we have stolen something, but all of it. The store manager on Saturday night apparently said (in Nicola’s words) that they’d looked at all of the evidence and it wasn’t clear. Therefore I want to make sure that all of the evidence is stored.
How can we ensure this?Kind regards
Lucy

Thank you.

Obviously there are no magic wands. There is no way of ensuring that you don't get a criminal record. If they make an allegation then all you can do is defend it.

There is no way of heading it off. That is called perverting the course of justice and that would not only lead to a criminal record but to a long period in prison.

I'm afraid that you cannot force Sainsbury's to disclose their CCTV. That is not Crown evidence. That is evidence that belongs to Sainsbury's. If they disclose it to the police then you would be entitled sight of what had been provided but you cannot demand that. The police could possibly seize it but you cannot force them to do that.

Forcing third party disclosure is quite a high test. But in any event, you would not be entitled to full vision of their CCTV as most of it would be irrelevant to this incident.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hi Jo, thank you for your response.Would the police be able to give a criminal record without me (us) having the opportunity to defend it? That’s what I’m worried about.Regarding the footage you said that I am entitled to see what’s provided to the Police but I cannot demand it. I’m not sure I understand whether or not I am entitled to see it in that case?If they have provided footage to the Police already as they say they have, am I already entitled to see it?How is it that Sainsbury’s can record me on their CCTV without my consent?Thank you in advance,
LucyThanks

No, you would be entitled to defend it.

Sainsburys don't need consent to use CCTV on their premises not indeed does anybody else. You don;t have a right not to be filmed in the UK

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Ok thank you.Regarding the footage, if it’s already passed to the police can I ask to see it?

If the police see is it then it is either shown to you if it supports their case or if it undermines their case or assists your defence.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Sorry Jo I don’t understand your message. Did you mean to write if they seize it?My query is whether I am currently entitled to see it or not if the Police have it.

Yes, that is a dictation error. If it reaches the police it will be disclosed to you in the above circumstances.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I’m not entitled just to request it?Sainsbury’s are apparently giving me the crime reference number on Tuesday. What should I do then as a next step?

No, you wouldnt be entitled to do that even if it were in the possession of the police. That is not the way the disclosure regime works I'm afraid.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Ah ok.Please could you let me know what you think my next best step should be? If I am given a crime reference number, what should we do then?

Probably best to do nothing until you know the police are looking for you.

Then make an appointment to surrender voluntarily.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
What does surrender mean?

Go in for interview.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Ok thank you.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
One final question for now, how would I know if they were looking for us?

They will make contact if they want you.

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Alright fair enough. You’ve put my mind at rest for now.
Best wishes

No problem.

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