What powers do security officers and crowd controllers have over me?
In Western Australia, security officers and crowd controllers have no greater arrest powers than those of an ordinary citizen.
Can security officers or crowd controllers arrest me?
Like any ordinary citizen, a security officer or crowd controller has the power to arrest any person who is, or suspected to be, committing an offence punishable by imprisonment. This is called a citizen’s arrest. To do this they must use clear words and touch you. Generally they will put a hand on your arm and say, “you are under arrest.”
If a security officer has a “reasonable belief” that an offence such as stealing has been committed by you then they can arrest you. You should get legal advice if this happens to you. Note that a security officer does not have to wait until you leave the store before arresting you for a suspected stealing offence. If they do wait until you leave, it may be easier for them to prove that you had no intention of paying for the items.
Do I have to go with a security officer or crowd controller when they ask me to?
If the security officer is not actually arresting you, you are under no obligation to stay or accompany the officer to the manager’s office or anywhere else.
If you have been arrested under a citizen’s arrest, the person may detain you for as long as is reasonably necessary for the police to take you into their custody.
The security officer or crowd controller may use only ‘reasonable’ force to detain you. If more force is used than is reasonable then it may be an unlawful assault.
Do I have to give my name or other details?
You are under no general obligation to give your name, date of birth, address or other details to a security officer or crowd controller.
However, there are exceptions to this general rule. They are:
- where you trespass on property, including where you remain on premises after being asked to leave, the owner or manager can ask your name and address and it is an offence to refuse or to provide false details
- where an employee of a licensed premise believes you are aged under 18, they can ask your age and request identification and it is an offence to refuse without a reasonable excuse or to give false information.
You should note that if the police become involved and a police officer requests your name, address and date of birth, you must provide these details and it is an offence to refuse or to give false details. For more information about your rights and obligations when dealing with the police, see Answering questions from police and Police powers.
Do I have to answer other questions?
You are under no obligation to answer any questions asked by a security officer or crowd controller other than in the circumstances noted in the exceptions above. Even if you go with the security officer to the manager’s office or elsewhere, either voluntarily or under arrest, you do not have to answer any other questions.
Anything you do tell the security officer, crowd controller or other people may be used against you in court.
Can I or my property be searched?
No-one except a police officer has the right to search you or your bags, even if a prominent sign states that this is a condition of entry.
If you do not allow your bags to be checked, you may be denied service and asked to leave the store. Your refusal may also add to any "reasonable suspicion" that you have committed an offence. This might mean that a security officer has more reason to arrest and detain you until police arrive.
Can I be removed from premises?
Security officers and crowd controllers are allowed to ask you to leave private premises or functions on behalf of the owner. An employee on licensed premises can refuse entry or remove you from premises for a wide number of reasons.
If you don’t leave when asked to do so, you may be trespassing and the security officer or crowd controller can use reasonable force to remove you from the premises. If more force is used than is reasonable then it may be an unlawful assault.
Who do I complain to about the actions of security officers or crowd controllers?
General complaints should be made to the owner or manager of the premises. Assaults should be reported to the police.
Last reviewed: 01/02/2010