Meet Bob. Bob purchased something and elects not to print/collect a receipt from the self checkout till. The security then accosts him suspecting him of not paying for it and he insists that he did, so the security asks him for his receipt. He says he doesn't have one, so security asks which till he used to check out and pay. He doesn't remember but reckons it's one of those middle three and security asks him to wait while they check those three for the transactions.

Bob meanwhile is in a rush to get somewhere and would like to leave with the goods he has in fact already purchased.

When does shop keeper's privilege entitle shops to makw such impositions on one's time and movement?

EAW specified all jurisdictions welcome.


1 Answer 1


The security guard, acting for the (now former) owner of the property doesn't know the new ownership of the property and asks for evidence Bob now owns the property. The security guard is free to ask.

Bob cannot produce a receipt for his purchase of the property. The security guard asks which checkout Bob used, so that the security guard can check its records for the transaction. Bob doesn't know specifically and says the checkout was one of three. The security guard asks Bob to remain while each of the three checkouts is checked until Bob's transaction is discovered (or not). The security guard is free to ask.

Bob is legally free to leave with his property but the security guard may think he has reasonable grounds for suspicion of shoplifting and decide to try to detain Bob on suspicion of shoplifting until the ownership of the property is established.

As any member of the public, the security guard 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." (s3 Criminal Law Act 1967)

Bob is also free to leave without his property. In this case, as there could be no grounds for suspicion of shoplifting, only attempted shoplifting, it seems unlikely that any force would be reasonable.

Of course, depending on retailer policy the security guard may be allowed to ban Bob from the premises if Bob doesn't cooperate.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .