Have you ever had a day when out shopping for groceries and you think to yourself, 'glad that's over' and can't wait to get home, put the groceries away and finally be able to put your feet up? The supermarket weekly shop, for some is a fun experience, and perhaps for others, an excuse to get out and about. To meet friends even, and to make a day of it.
There's one thing some might have in common when out shopping, no matter what we shop for; no matter if you're a weekly grocery shopper, a daily convenience shopper, or someone who spends their time shopping for clothes. It's when we head for the door on the way out and realise we've just set off the security alarms.
It's then time to hope for a great big hole to open up infront of us, to allow us to jump in and out of plain sight, and quickly before anyone realises it's 'YOU'. The embarrassment for some people must be as intense a feeling as the state of confusion they will undoubtedly feel; whilst others will be more laid back, and see it as an interesting shopping experience. Perhaps all the while thinking to themselves, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.
To some people though, the feelings of shock and confusement, could be avoided. After all, there are times that those alarms go off when they really shouldn't. They have no reason to go off, as we have done nothing wrong, and especially as there are no security tags in our shopping bags. The checkout staff in store did their jobs correctly and managed to take the security tags off the items you purchased, so how on earth did we manage to set off the security alarms?
To detain a suspected shoplifter, a security guard is entitled to use a ‘reasonable’ amount of force. Under section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 they may ‘use as much force as is reasonable in the circumstances. in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large’. Security officers do not have the power to force someone to submit to a search of their property if the person is there and does not give their consent. They are, however, allowed to search property if it is left unattended in suspicious circumstances. They can also search the property of an unconscious person to try to identity the unconscious person and it is in that person’s welfare.
Warning! - Video may contain some poor choice language (some swearing) Part two of the saga can be viewed by clicking here - PART TWO
Security guards do a job that isn't all that nice, they're often abused by people and sometimes confronted by those with an angry disposition. It's not unusual for security guards to be spat and sworn at, and sometimes might search or have to detain a person in posession of a knife or other types of weopans. If they let someone go who they detained for shoplifting they may well face the sack for failure to do the job they're paid to do. The point is, nobody said they do an easy job. But what happens when security guards set off the alarms themselves in an effort to detain a person, allowing them to stop and search? Watch the two video's above, and see how it's done.
Sainsburys allow their employees to have a set of keys, usually upper management and security only, you're never allowed to leave the store with those keys. On the key is a "token" about the size of a 10p coin. Plain clothed security walk out the door, with the token in their pocket, same time as the person they want to stop and sets the alarm off. Uniformed security is always right there and nab you, said Colin Johnson. Resident of Great Yarmouth, and owner of the Youtube channel above.
Perhaps when you approach the entrance/exit to a store and the alarms go off before you actually reach the alarm barriers, and you notice someone enters the store, but has no shopping or bags of any kind on them; it's a good bet that you've actually identified who the store detective is in their plain clothes.
But what happens if a supermarket doesn't allow for plain clothed security or 'store detectives' in their staff budgets? How will the store 'Accidentally' set off the alarms as we leave? If you shopped at the Great Yarmouth Sainsbury's supermarket, you might see as you enter the store, a lottery ticket stand. And on that stand you may find two security tags which can easily be placed in the pocket of a store employee who may suspect you of something untoward. Or they could be intended for use by a security guard. Or even two. It's fair to say that this practice happens in other supermarkets, but also of different chain's. It's also fair to point out, it won't happen in every store owned by that particular chain.
We might remember that if we have nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear, but also be mindful that sometimes security tags are left on items purchased, especially when using express checkouts, and not always the fault of store employees for failing to remove those tags. For example, that tube of lipstick, or the joint of beef. Infact any high value item might carry a security tag of some description. However, what is disturbing and worth noting, is the fact that some store security will stop at nothing to try and detain a person for the purpose of a search, but who are completely innocent and unnaware of what is about to happen to them.
If alarms go off as we leave a store and we're searched but nothing is found, and presuming we wish to kick up a fuss, we may be entitled to some form of compensation for the fact we were detained and searched with no solid grounds for staff to do so. However, from the store's point of view, the fact that alarms went off as we 'tried to leave' is often grounds enough, and justification to carry out a search in the first place. It may also provide mitigating circumstances in support of a store, against a person(s) right to claim compensation.
This vulgar practice must end, and stores must uphold a person's right to go about their business without fear of detention, or be held under any false pretences whatsoever. They must not assume they may detain us at their whim or by the whim of any store security. As citizens, we do have rights, and we do appear to put up with an awful lot already, including the invasion of our rights to privacy. When will supermarkets, or infact all retailers, start playing fair with people, and start to treat their customers with respect. After all, without our support they have nothing. Nothing at all!
Rachel Stirling for Political Provocateur
Edited by Simon O'Donnell for Political Provocateur