Shoplifting in legal terms

Mike Has Pocketed An Expensive Item Whilst He Is In A Large Department Store. He Does Not Pay For It. He Has Also Put On An Item Of Clothing Under His Jacket. As He Tries To Leave The Store He Is Arrested On Suspicion Of Theft By Staff. The Police Are Called.

Describe The Procedure In The Legal Process That Follows.

Mike has committed a crime by stealing from a shop. This crime is called shoplifting in legal terms. The staff might have been alerted by alarmed system which is at the door of every shop so as to be able to know that a product has been stolen. Shoplifting is a criminal offence according to section19 of the criminal act 1961. As the was aware they called the police so as they can arrest this thief.

When the police arrived they cannot just take Mike and bring him at the Police Station, they have to follow the procedure of arrestation so that they do not breach any of the defendant's right. According to the Theft Act 1968, which state that “A person's appropriation of property belonging to another may be dishonest notwithstanding that he is willing to pay for the property'', Mike is a thief First there is the manner of arrest where Mike will be under the control of the police officer. The police will caution Mike by saying that he has the right to remain silent. If mike is a minor then this caution might be a formal one but on the other hand if he is an adult it is a non-statutory disposal. This arrestation is under section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence act 1984 which state that the police the authority to arrest anybody who have committed or who is suspected of committing a criminal offence. After the caution the policemen must tell from which Police Station they are from then they will bring Mike to detention where he will be interrogated and recorded on a tape.

If mike is under 17 years old the police must compulsorily inform his parents or one of his legal guardians. Also no question should be ask to him except if the life of a person is in risk then an independent “appropriate adult” will be chose to make sure that mike is treated the right way. But as a shoplifting case, if Mike is a minor the police will have to wait for his closest relatives. This is found under Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

However if Mike is an adult the police will gather evidence either from witness or from shop camera. If mike is an adult the police will tell him that he has the right to inform a relative to make them aware of his position. At his arrival to the Police Station Mike will be bring to the custody officer who will first verify if he has any precedent criminal record. If it is so this shoplifting case might be more serious for Mike. It is the Custody officer who will decide whether to charge him or summon him. For that he will analyse all the evidence receive by previous policemen who were on the field to make up his mind and take the right conclusion out of it. Also in the case Mike has no previous criminal record he might escape with only a warning a very low time of imprisonment.

To process further if Mike is charge for his act the custody officer will take all his personal belongings and then will proceed with a strip search. Everything that is collected from Mike will be recorded by the custody officer as they are taken under section 32(1) of PACE 1984. He will then go for the tape recorded interview where he will be asked questions. Mike have the right to contact a legal advisor under section 58 of PACE 1984 this is related to an indictable offence.

For the tape recording interview Mike will again be cautioned by the police who will say “you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when question anything which you later rely on in court. Anything that you say may be given as an evidence”. The interview must compulsorily be recorded as it is under section 60 of PACE 1984. This is so, as there need to be proof of what the Mike will say and how he is treated by the Policemen and as soon as the tape recorder is on the interview is under Code C of PACE 1984, if ever Mike was a more dangerous Criminal such as member of a terrorist group, this tape recording interview would have been under code E where recording is done for more serious allegation. The tape interview is one of the most important part of the police process as it is a significant tool for law enforcement.

After the interview Mike will be taken in the department where fingerprints are taken from him from both hands. Moreover they will take three pictures of him one from each side of his face and one face to face. This is regulated under the section 61 of PACE 1984. Furthermore if Mike is a more serious offender that is he has previous criminal cases, the police will take intimate sample of him such as blood, hairs or saliva as he is considered to be a threat to the society and need to be recognise by any mean. This is found under section under 61 too but is considered more seriously by the police.

After that the police will finish with the interview and taken the proper identity proof from Mike, all the information will be send to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). The CPS works with various with various members throughout the Criminal Justice System which include police forces, courts, Home office among some others. The Statutory duties of the CPS is ruled under the 1985 act. Thus the CPS have the power to discontinue a case, if it is so Mike's case will not go to court. On the other hand if the CPS continues with charges press against Mike his case will go to the magistrate court where he will receive a judgement for his act.


  • (arrestation)

  • (minor defendant)

  • (interview)

  • (theft act)

  • (CPS)

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