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Watching security patrol shopping centres isn’t an uncommon sight, and bouncers are another form of security you’ll easily spot outside nightclubs on an evening. Manned guarding to monitor suspicious behaviour can prevent shoplifting and aggression. Security guards can be a critical element in the safety of customers and staff in public. Still, they don’t have the power of police officers! It may come as a surprise when you learn the parameters that guards need to stay inside within their security role.

Here is a list detailing what security guards can and can’t do in the UK.

Can: Make a citizen’s arrest

Security guards are more likely to find themselves in the circumstances facing criminals. They do have some power to detain them. However, a citizen’s arrest can be made by any member of the public on reasonable grounds. 

A citizen’s arrest is reasonable if:

  • Someone is in the act of committing an offence, or you have reason to believe they are.
  • A crime has been committed, and you have reason to believe they’re guilty. 
  • A police officer is not near and available to make the arrest instead. 
  • The arrest is necessary to detain the individual and prevent harm to people and surroundings.
  • You avoid using force as much as possible. Only apply enough to detain. 

Can’t: Force a search

ºNo matter the circumstances, the public are within their rights to refuse a search of their property and person. Even with suspected shoplifting, security guards have no legal right to demand an investigation with no verbal consent.

However, security guards can:

  • Ask to complete a search of property, person and vehicle, which patrons can refuse.
  • Search unattended luggage without consent to guarantee it isn’t a threat to the public.
  • Check the pockets and bags of unconscious individuals to try and identify them. 

Can: Refuse entry to a venue

While any security team cannot force a search, they can refuse entry to a venue if the patron doesn’t comply with their terms. Reasonable force can be applied against any members of the public who try to bypass retail security and therefore pose a threat to the safety of other guests.

Still, security guards must:

  • Employ both male and female staff members for searches, wherever possible.
  • Limit their searches to bags, pockets and outer layers of clothing. 
  • Confiscate and report any illegal items, such as drugs or weapons, that they discover.
  • Call the police to escalate any serious concerns.

Can’t: Carry weapons

A security guard is exactly like a regular member of the public when it comes to carrying weaponry. No physical item designed to cause harm can be on display. Even if the weapon is never put to use and it’s been donned for intimidation, it isn’t allowed. Security dogs are much more sensible than weaponry.

Prohibited weapons include:

  • Pepper spray.
  • Batons of any size.
  • Tasers.
  • Knuckle dusters.
  • Guns.
  • Knives. 
  • Hammers.

Can: Use handcuffs

Security guards are well within their rights to carry and apply handcuffs when making a citizen’s arrest. Employers should provide adequate training to any worker who is likely to fit handcuffs to prevent them from hurting themselves or the individual in detention.

Handcuff training covers:

  • How to apply the device to passive and aggressive subjects.
  • The medical implications that handcuffs can have, like asphyxia, and how to prevent issues.
  • How to remove handcuffs properly, which is as important as their initial application.
  • Why handcuffs are a sensible idea, and where to utilise them.

To learn more about a security officer’s responsibilities and how they can protect your property or your business, contact us at STOK K9 Security Services.