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October 23, 2023


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Caution urged after Policing Minister’s call for citizen arrests amid rising shoplifting incidents

Triton Security has expressed concerns over the recent call by Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire, Chris Philp, for members of the public to make citizen arrests on shoplifters.

The security firm, which helps in safeguarding retailers, has said it has witnessed a concerning trend of increased violence and aggression from shoplifters when confronted, making such actions potentially dangerous.

The call for citizen arrests came as a response to the rising incidents of shoplifting across the country, where, at a Conservative Party conference this month, the Policing Minister said: “The wider public do have the power of citizen’s arrest and, where it’s safe to do so, I would encourage that to be used because if you do just let people walk in, take stuff and walk out without proper challenge, including potentially a physical challenge, then again it will just escalate.

“While I want the faster and better police response, the police can’t be everywhere all the time.”

Further reading: Tackling the retail crime epidemic with technology – Are body-worn cameras the answer?

Triton Security has said it acknowledges the challenges faced by law enforcement in tackling this issue, however, the company’s Commercial Director, Lauren Paver, warned of the potential dangers of citizens taking the law into their own hands.

Paver commented, “We share the concerns about the growing issue of shoplifting, but we strongly advise against members of the public attempting to detain suspected thieves. Our experienced security personnel have observed a disturbing increase in aggressive and violent behaviour from shoplifters when apprehended. This poses serious risks not only to the individuals attempting the arrests but also to innocent bystanders.”

Security guard threatened with pen knife 

To illustrate the point, Paver highlighted a recent incident that took place in a Luton supermarket on 4 October 2023.

In this particular case, a shoplifter attempted to steal two boxes of Galaxy chocolates and fled the store. When a security guard attempted to retrieve the dropped property, the suspect pulled out a folding pen knife with the blade exposed and approached him. The security guard stepped back and used his mobile phone to call for assistance, at which point the suspect became verbally aggressive.

Paver added, “This incident in Luton is just one example of the dangerous situations our security personnel face daily. The safety of all individuals involved, including our dedicated security team, is paramount. We advocate a more measured and safe approach to addressing this issue.”

A 2022 Crime Report of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), highlighted that between 2021-22, 89% of store staff working alone faced abuse in their job, with 35,000 incidents of violence and over 16,000 incidents including the use of a weapon, of which 9% resulted in injury.

Triton Security believes staff should allow trained professionals, such as security guards, to handle suspected shoplifters, as they are equipped to deal with such situations while aiming to minimise risks and ensure the safety of all parties involved.

The company added that it is committed to working closely with retailers and law enforcement agencies to develop effective strategies to combat shoplifting while maintaining a secure and safe environment for all.


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