Worrying about how to protect supermarket security guards from 'shooters', hardly anybody remembers about the protection of the very customers. How high is the level of policing in stores? Does everybody know his rights in case of unfounded decision of a guard to search his things? Who to appeal to if you are not happy with the behavior of shop security guards?

During New Year rush, when the activity of customers was high and vigilance of guards was sharpened, ForUm tried to clarify these questions and now hurries to report...

Wrongfully accused

Imagine a standard situation: a person is leaving a supermarket and alarm system goes off. The customer is sure he did not take anything 'extra' and paid for all the goods. According to Serhiy Shabovty, president of Ukrainian association of professional security, "ringing alarm is a ground for a security guard to stop this person." At the same time, according to the law, the guard can search client's things only with the permission of the very client.

"Search is an element of administrative detention, and only a representative of law enforcement forces, meaning a police officer, has a right to it," he explained.

Security guards do not have the right to search things even if the evidences of theft are obvious - video records, inadequate behavior of the client, trying to hide something, etc. However, it does not mean that the suspect will go free. What the guard can do in this case is to contact local police department and report the incident.

Out of range

Before the police arrival, the suspect will have to stay on the territory of this supermarket. At the same time, security guards can only limit the movements, but not communication.

"Guards have absolutely no right to forbid the suspect to use his phone. In fact, the person can call police himself, can call his relatives or friends to tell about the incident and ask for help," Serhiy Shabovta says.

Moreover, if the client has claims against the guard, it is better to appeal directly to the administration of the supermarket. The chances that superior guard will defend the rights of the customer in a conflict situation are very small.

"Whether it is an interior guard or private security company working on the territory of the supermarket, the responsibility lies with the administration. Thus any attempts of the administrator to send the client to the superior guard are unlawful," the specialist says.

However, if the actions of the guards were indeed unlawful, they will face administrative or even criminal responsibility, press office of Interior Ministry told ForUm.

"Chamber of horrors" or curtains of anonymity?

Many people also wonder what to do if the guard proposes to go to a back room for further talks. The law "On security guard activities" does not say a word about that guards have rights to bring the suspect in a back room for interrogation. Moreover, in response to the question where they would prefer to solve the conflict, ordinary customers say they would feel safer among people".

On the other hand, specialists say that this question must be considered also from the point of tact. According to Shabovta, the existence of back rooms for interrogation is justified at least for the purpose not to make public the incident. However, the equipment of such security rooms should be improved, he added.

"Events in Karavan supermarket have proved that even video surveillance is inefficient. We also need audio recordings to be able to reconstruct the situation in case of any mutual claims. There must be a special room for talks, equipped with video and audio surveillance. I am sure that similar records from the security room, where guards were shot, would have helped to reconstruct the murder scene and learn the truth about the events," Shabovta summed up.


Neither the guards not administration of the supermarket have the right to ask the customer to pay a fine. According to Serhiy Shabovta, there are no immediate penalties to be paid, as the law "On security guard activities" does not provide for it. Thus, even if the client is guilty, the fine must be paid only by court order.

On internet, you can find numerous messages of customers, describing various schemes, being allegedly used in supermarkets. The idea is simple: a cashier makes a deal with a guard and "forgets" to register one of the goods. As a result, the alarm system goes off and the guard forces the client to pay the fine, taking advantage of customer's legal ignorance. Thus, before leaving a supermarket, check the bill in order to avoid similar situations.

At the same time, before entering a supermarket, go through your purse and pockets to check whether you have something, which can be used against you at the exit. It is better to leave things in a special locker, than to prove afterwards that you have bought this chocolate bar in a different shop.  Moreover, lockers are also guarded objects, and in case of loss, the customer has a right to appeal to the relevant bodies and responsible executives may face even criminal responsibility, according to Shabovta.

"When the administration writes that it does not bear responsibility for things left in lockers, it lies. According to our civil legislation, the administration, as well as the security guards, is directly responsible for the lockers and things inside them," he says.

As for the fine for minor theft, according to the Interior Ministry data, it makes between 10 and 30 tax-free minimum wages. Moreover, offenders may face community works for the period up to one month with 20 percent income withholdings or administrative arrest for 5-10 days. 

Red alert

Don't forget that public order in a supermarket means not only correctly paid bills, but also safe stay. Hardly anyone will like to do shopping and watch a drunken man crashing things around. The law "On security guard activities" obliges guards to maintain public order, but does not specify whom to let in and whom to keep out. Specialists, however, say that security guards can act according to elementary norms of public moral.

"The task of security guards is to maintain public order. Demonstrably drunken person does not help to maintain public order, in my opinion. He has inadequate behavior, can hit a woman or scary a child, thus he should not be allowed in a supermarket," Serhiy Shabovta opined.

However, guards should be delicate in this situation. Applying force is illegal. According to Shabovta, a guard can apply force only in case of immediate danger to his life or lives of customers.

"If a guard is critical about some customer and the latter becomes aggressive (attacks, throws things, takes out a weapon), the only way out, of course, is to apply force. However, in such situation the guard should call police immediately and not to try to solve the situation by himself," the specialist says.

Armed and dangerous

Anyway, Ukrainians should not expect total arming of security guards in supermarkets. Firstly, relevant resolution of the Cabinet is still under consideration, and secondly, the innovation will be applied only to 10-15% of the total market of security guard activities. It does not concern the so-called departmental (interior) security service, working in stores and supermarkets.

Nevertheless, the interior guard remains a problem for security business. In fact, departmental security acts out of accord with the current legislation and does not follow it at all.

"The situation must be solved at the legislative level, and we try to initiate it. They lay blame on the whole security business market, but then it turns out that offenders have absolutely nothing to do with the licensed security service," Serhiy Shabovta notes.

Whatever the case, always follow what the law says and do not buy into tricks of people, who want to make money on you. ForUm wishes you safe shopping and fair cashiers and security guards.

Tetyana Matsur


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