Security guard breached health and safety policy by confronting thief… A security guard lost his job after he chased and caught a thief who had stolen goods from the HMV store where he was employed.
The man had his contract terminated after he was informed that he had breached health and safety policy by leaving the premises and pursuing the thief. HMV introduced this policy as a result of the death of a member of their security staff in Norwich in 2007 after he had confronted a shoplifter.
In an interview he gave to the Daily Mail, the guard explained that he had chased the thief because a large number of goods, estimated to be around 20 DVDs had been stolen and he thought “it was too much to lose”.
The case has prompted a lot of debate in the health and safety industry as law experts urge employers to improve information and training for staff and have clear policies in place to prevent any kind of ambiguity about what an employee is or is not permitted to do.
A HMV spokesman said he couldn’t comment too much on the particular case as the security guard still had the option to appeal his dismissal:
“While I am not in a position to give specific details of why he has been dismissed… not least because he still has a right of appeal, which we would not wish to prejudice, I can confirm he was asked to leave for an accumulation of reasons.”
Bibby Consulting and Support, a firm specialising in employment law, warned companies that employ security guards to provide the necessary training and information to their staff so that they are aware of the complications and dangers arising from apprehending criminals.
The managing direction of Bibby, Michael Slade explained:
“Cases like this are not clear cut. That’s why companies need to make sure they have clear policies in place, that their workers are fully aware of them – and reminded so on a regular basis.
“It might be expected that security guards should be able to chase thieves but if they are running at speed through a public place, there is a very real chance that they could collide with someone and cause them serious injury. Employers also need to consider that guards could be set upon by a thief’s accomplices and sustain a serious injury themselves.”
He added that security staff who chose to take action that was outside of an agreed policy might have to face the prospect of disciplinary action:
“This might lead to claims that a person was sacked for doing their job, but this argument would simply not hold up if the boundaries governing that job had been clearly communicated beforehand and then breached.”