Citizens' Arrests: Chris Philp's idea of the public stopping shop theft are a DIY Policing Disaster

4 October 2023, 11:23

Do you know actually know anyone who has made a citizens arrest?
Do you know actually know anyone who has made a citizens arrest? Picture: LBC

By StephenRigley

Do you know actually know anyone who has made a citizens arrest?

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Here are my suggestions:

A family member? A friend? A colleague?


Me neither.

And this idea of 'self-policing' is the brainchild of policing minister Chris Philp.

He is no doubt a busy man with a bulging in-tray, but if I may, I would like to draw his attention to a couple of LBC interviews his colleagues gave from conference this week.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel told Nick Ferrari that shop workers need protection, while Philp's predecessor Kit Malthouse called for tougher police action.

Mr. Philp clearly has not spoken to or listened to his party colleagues.

OK, for one moment let's forget the lamentable internal communications inside the modern Conservative party and look at what Mr. Philp actually told a fringe conference meeting:

“The wider public do have the power of citizen’s arrest and, where it’s safe to do so, I would encourage that to be used because if you do just let people walk in, take stuff and walk out without proper challenge, including potentially a physical challenge, then again it will just escalate.

“While I want the faster and better police response, the police can’t be everywhere all the time.”

Bear in mind this is just weeks after LBC highlighted the cases of Marty Scott and Sohail Sindho.

Lawyers for Halford's blamed shop manager Mr. Scott after he was kicked in the head protecting his store for putting "himself and potentially others at risk".

Despite being captured on CCTV, the case against the two 'shoplifters' was dropped.

While Mr. Sohail had to pull his three sons out of school and go into hiding after an altercation inside his store.

Still think this is a good idea Mr. Philp?

And how exactly do you make a citizen's arrest?

A quick visit to Detective Google says 'you can make a citizen's arrest if 'the suspect is actually committing the offence or if you reasonably suspect them of committing it, or when the offence has been committed and you reasonably suspect them of having committed it. There is no specific wording to use when making a citizens arrest.'

OK, so Mr. Philp is urging people to use potentially unclear language - with the potential threat of force - to stop theft.

What if the person doesn't understand your phrase?

What if the threat of force isn't enough?

Will you be arrested if you use too much force? And frankly, will the police actually prosecute the perpetrator?

Can you imagine going through all that risk for the thief to escape with a caution?

And where will this all lead Mr. Philp? Are you going to need to build a citizen's prison to house the people who have gone through citizen's courts having been citizen's arrested?

Tory grandees Priti Patel and Kit Malthouse say the police have the powers to protect shop staff and act against the thieves.

It is time Mr. Philp listened and learned the lessons of people like Mr. Scott and Mr. Sohail.

A green light for vigilantism is not a good idea.

It is the police's job to use the powers at their disposal and crack down on thefts and violence against shopkeepers.