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Who knows whether a security is allowed to look in your bag without the police being present????

(46 Posts)
KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 17:33:59


I was just in Peacocks buying a pair of swimming trunks for DS - three quid.

The security guard followed me and my mum and my two children around the store as soon as we walked in and I mean RIGHT behind us.

I was in there about twenty minutes while DD was clopping around in flip flops and and looking around generally. I paid and then went to leave the shop. The security stood in my way and asked to see my goods and my receipt. I was a bit put out but showed him. He then asked to look in my handbag (quite big summery bag). I refused and said on what grounds. He insisted it was his right.

Well, as you can imagine I was OUTRAGED and told him so. The manager came over and sent him away and said that he was within his rights to search my bag.

I said if you think I've stolen something call the police. She knew that I hadn't which is why she sent the security guard away.

To cut a long stressed out story short I left the shop. Promptly turned around, went back in and asked for a refund on the shorts as "it would choke me to see my son wearing them". Got my refund and left.

Chestpains, stress and angry tears later I am now sharing it with you lot to calm myself down.

Fran1 Sat 25-Jun-05 17:43:00

That is absolutely awful!!

I hate it even when i feel like a security guard is watching me, but to be asked to search like that in the shop!!
When i've seen people get caught shoplifting they get ushered out to the back, and i always think it may be to save their embarrassment (prob not i know!)

I'd write a letter of complaint to their HO if I were you.
You may get some vouchers to apologise if nothing else THen you can go back and get the swimming trunks! lol

GeorginaA Sat 25-Jun-05 17:43:46

Seeing as how much hoohah there is around police getting stop and search powers, I very much doubt that mere shop security staff have those powers as you say.

on your behalf, what a horrible experience. Do follow up with a complaint letter - you never know, you might at least get an apology out of them.

hercules Sat 25-Jun-05 17:45:17

Dh says the security guard has the right to search your bag if they suspect anything. I would write and ask on what grounds he asked.

morningpaper Sat 25-Jun-05 17:52:10

This wouldn't bother me at all. He's only doing his job.

KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 17:54:46

I asked him on what grounds - what did he suspect me of and he wouldn't say. If he had thought he saw me take a swimming costume or a t-shirt or a pair of shoes but he just kept saying it's was his right.

This is in the doorway of the shop too, people coming in and out.

I will be writing to their HO for an apology because I appreciate they have to protect their stock but I was treated VERY badly and even the manager she was sorry.

They will be hearing from me!!

Luckily my DH is on his way home now with a bottle of wine which will go a long way to calming me down.

KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 17:55:09

It wouldn't bother you morningpaper? yeah right.

roisin Sat 25-Jun-05 17:58:38

I agree with Morningpaper actually, it wouldn't bother me either.

morningpaper Sat 25-Jun-05 17:59:06

Actually I've been followed around stores a couple of times (in the days when I had shaved hair and looked like a militant political lesbian). I have been asked to have my bags looked in but the security chaps have always been very polite about it and I adopted my Bumbling-Terribly-Sorry-English manner and that's it, over and done with. Lots of stuff gets nicked from stores all the time, it's their job to be suspicious.

KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 18:00:45

but he never said to me "I believe you have stolen such and such". So this is effectively some complete stranger wanting to look in my bag for no apparent reason.

No chance

colditz Sat 25-Jun-05 18:01:35

MP, did you look like Millie Tante? And did you spout at length about Wimmin?

morningpaper Sat 25-Jun-05 18:01:53

(During my leather-dyke stage I was once refused to be sold a bottle of water on a train because the cashier thought I was off my tits on drugs - but I had just had my wisdom teeth out and couldn't talk properly! That was much worse ... )

morningpaper Sat 25-Jun-05 18:04:05

He HAD a reason... he obviously suspected you'd stolen something. He wasn't interested in what brand of tampon you use.

Talking of which, a couple of years ago I went to court (for a friend's divorce papers) and unexpectedly had my bag searched - and ALL it contained was spare pants and a sanitary towel, I nearly DIED.

morningpaper Sat 25-Jun-05 18:05:22

I was Millie Tant with no hair - yum!

Nightynight Sat 25-Jun-05 19:00:07

Surely that cant be correct that anyone has the right to search your bag if you're on their premises? Do they also have the right to do body searches too then?

I refused in a supermarket in Germany recently. They wanted to check in my bag before allowing me to leave the supermarket. When I refused they let me go. Subsequently realised that this supermarket is run by a clique of complete bitches.

I was livid too, kbear. well done for asking for a refund though!

mumofelise Sat 25-Jun-05 19:02:52

when i used to work in a american discount warehouse, security could look in your bag but couldn't move anything. give some people a wee bit of power and they think they own the store

spacecadet Sat 25-Jun-05 19:41:15

kbear, have checked with dh who manages a very large garden centre and he says that, if a security guard suspects you of shoplifting, they have to ask to come back into the store and say that they suspect you may have taken something, then in front of another witness they are allowed to look in your bag but not physically touch it, or you, if they suspect you may have something on your person, they must call the police, they can not search you themselves. this security guard did not act appropriately imo and I would write to peacocks and complain.

Whizzz Sat 25-Jun-05 19:45:16

I'm pretty sure that they don't have any rights if you refuse their request to look in your bag. Obviously they can then call the police if they wish but as far as I am aware (& certainly our Security at work) don't have any special rights at all. It is only a job title & they do not have any special powers

KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 19:50:39

and I hadn't actually left the store.

Thanks for letting me rant - didn't expect everyone to agree with me that it was out of order. People have different ideas of what is a flaming cheek! He was just bored out of his head and thought he'd piss me off with no actual reason - ie that I hadn't actually nicked anything and therefore he couldn't have thought that he saw me.

Libb Sat 25-Jun-05 19:55:46

At work they certainly have the right to search your bags, and you have to pass through a metal detector gate - we wouldn't be much of a court if we didn't have these things in place.

We do get some right ones too - just yesterday got to see one of our regulars having a pee in the newly planted bushes - nice.

Libb Sat 25-Jun-05 19:56:53

If you like I can check with our Head of Security and ask, she is lovely and probably a MNetter too . . .

fisil Sat 25-Jun-05 19:58:36

I would be really about this too (although would probably do the old bumbling Englishman act!).

At school when something has gone missing we have to follow a careful procedure. We have to get a senior member of staff to come to the room first. Then we have to ask the students to empty their own bags and put the contents out on the table. If we suspect there is something still in the bag, we have to ask the kids to show us. I can't see why the same rules wouldn't apply.

edam Sat 25-Jun-05 20:03:20

I imagine security guards in a court building may have more powers than ordinary security guards - don't know really. But ordinary security guards don't have any authority beyond that of a normal citizen - they aren't police officers. If you refuse a request (and it is a request, even if they try to phrase it as an order) from them to look in your bag, their only resort is to phone the police. And I don't think they have any power to detain you until the police turn up. Although have a vague memory that anyone can perform a citizen's arrest - basically telling someone to stay put until police arrive. But actually touching or restraining someone against their will could get them into a LOT of trouble.

Nightynight Sat 25-Jun-05 20:11:19

security guards in the court building can only refuse to let you in if you dont let them check your bag though.

Or, they can do a citizens arrest. (as an aside, if this power is misused, eg by racists, they seem to be able to get away with it, fume fume!! but thats another story)

If the security in the shop isnt allowed to touch you, then theyve got no right to check your bag either, cos that means you can just refuse to open it. Anyone can ASK to check my bag!

hope youre feeling better about it now Kbear. Being accused of theft is a very nasty experience.

KBear Sat 25-Jun-05 22:24:56

Thanks everyone.

Calm Kbear

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