In today’s extremely litigious climate, people are increasingly aware of their legal rights and are ready to take someone to court to ensure their rights are respected. As a security guard, understanding your rights and responsibilities is especially important as your day-to-day work can and will involve situations where you will have to exercise force and restraint. Knowing what you can and can’t legally do is very important to doing your job well, and is also important so that you protect yourself from any sort of legal trouble.
As a Keynsham security guard, you are entitled to detain someone whom you believe to be shoplifting, as long as you have reasonable grounds for your suspicion. You are even allowed to use ‘reasonable’ force to do so. However, if it turns out that the person in question really was not shoplifting, and you detained them, they may be able to claim that the detainment was assault or otherwise file a lawsuit.
For this reason, it is a good idea to be as sure as possible that someone is shoplifting before detaining them:
- Has the person in question taken something from the store and hidden it on their person?
- Is the person in question attempting to leave the store without paying?
- Have you maintained visual contact with the person since the item was hidden?
If you can answer yes to the above questions, you should feel reasonably confident that it is legally permissible to detain them.
When detaining someone for theft, it is best to use as little force (preferably none) as possible. It will only make your case stronger and prevent them from filing any charges against you or your employer. Simply explain to them who you are and what is happening. Contact the police immediately, and wait with the person until the authorities arrive. There is no need to confine someone to a makeshift holding cell, locked room or somewhere similar.
Force is a tricky subject as it is something of a legal grey area. A good rule of thumb is the less force, the better. Technically, as a Keynsham security guard, you have no more legal power than any member of the public does. Your right to detain someone is based on your belief that the person has committed a crime. You need to have some kind of proof in order to justify any force used. Simply put, the less force you use, the easier things will be for you.