(UK based). My question refers to the situation where you are using the "scan as you go" system in which you scan items and pack them into your bag as you go around the shop, and pay at the till before you leave. When using this system you agree in the terms to random rescans, in which your items are occasionally completely rescanned by store staff to see if there is anything you didn't scan.

However, this seems to imply that the shop staff have the ability to go through your personal bag, which may have your own belongings as well as your shopping. As far as I am aware here the store has no recourse to use citizens arrest powers, as there has been nothing to suggest you have broken the law, so they have no power to search your bag or detain you for a police member to search your bag. But if they have no power to search you, surely the rescan system will never catch potential shoplifters, as any unscanned items can be kept concealed in your bag.

  • You've already agreed to a rescan of where ever you're putting the scanned merchandise. Doesn't that mean that the store should be able to look through that bag even if you have additional personal items in the bag?
    – doneal24
    Jan 22, 2022 at 18:58
  • 2
    It would appear ill-advised to carry personal items in a bag intended for use to shop, and conversely, to carry grocery items in a personal bag.
    – fred_dot_u
    Jan 22, 2022 at 22:27
  • I don't see barriers to catching shoplifters that are significantly higher than for traditional check-out systems. Shoplifters can also conceal items in their bags with regular stores. Feb 28 at 0:47

2 Answers 2


You have an agreement with the store that allows you to use scan and go technology. Part of that agreement a bit that says

we may ask you to help us confirm that the service is working effectively by allowing us to check your goods against the scanner or to re-scan your shopping

They also say that they are

entitled to withdraw your right to use the Scan and Go service at any time if you do not comply with these Terms and Conditions. If we do that, the legal agreement created between ASDA and you under these Terms and Conditions will come to an end immediately, although any relevant statutory rights that you may have will not be affected. More generally, ASDA reserves the right to withdraw the Scan and Go Service at any time, at its sole discretion

You have implicitly consented to a brief stop for a rescan. I don't see any implication that they assert a right to search your person. You can refuse a re-scan and they can process you like an ordinary customer.

As for shoplifting, as this article summarizes, security can make a citizen's arrest if they suspect that you have committed a crime (theft). They have to have reasonable grounds for thinking that an arrest is necessary to prevent the loss. Hence they can detain you until the constable arrives.

  • Unless the law has changed recently, there is no citizen's power of arrest on the mere suspicion that an offence has occurred - they must be sure an offence has occurred.
    – Steve
    Feb 27 at 18:37

It's worth remembering that the goods are not purchased until the checkout process is complete.

You do not have to submit to any kind of search, but you must allow the store to scan the goods you have gathered, if they request to do so.

If you refuse, they can simply refuse the sale altogether, and you would have to abandon all the goods you have collected.

These practices are designed to deter the shopper who might casually shoplift if they thought the process was completely unmonitored - especially under the guise of carelessness in using the scanner.

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