Does a security guard in Sweden have the right to search someone´s bag?

Hej, first of all, thank you for offering the help.Does a security guard of a store in Sweden have the right to ask a customer to open her luggage for him to inspect it after she left the shop and no beeps (or any other suspicious matters) took place?How should the customer react to this request? And when the customer is proved innocent from the suspicion that the guard had, how should the shop apologize for this? Especially if there was no reason whatsoever for those suspicions and that the inspection delayed the customer and there were consequences to that delay that harmed her.Would you please help? Or is there a governmental office in Sweden that I should direct my question to?Thank you beforehand.

Hi, and thank you for your question!

I´m guessing that you are not that helped with me referring to a bunch of paragraphs to answer your question since you are writing in in english. In stead I´ll try to explain it in words..

Every person in Sweden have the same legal right to the following action, security guards as well. In Sweden, anyone can apprehend people lawfully if three criteria are met:

1. The person in question did something illegal (a crime due to swedish law)

2. The crime has the penalty of imprisonment. (Theft is an example of this.)

3. The person responsible for the apprehension must see the crime take place and apprehend the person right on the spot or while they are fleeing.

When a person is apprehended the guard have the right to search the person for dangerous items that may harm themselves or others. This does not mean the right to go pockets or personal affects. The purpose is to make sure that no one gets hurt during the time that they are apprehended until the police arrives. If, for instance, a bag can be removed from the apprehended person while waiting, there is not cause for the search and it is therefore unlawful.

So, if your friend had been lawfully apprehended, the guard would have known exactly what was taken and where your friend had put it and there would have been no need to search her bag. Even if she had stolen something, the searching of her bag is not permitted.

Although, it can be said that some security guards bend the law a bit in these kinds of situations and asks the person for permission to search the bag, but it has been established in the courts that this is not a legitimate way to navigate around rules that are in place to protect peoples integrity and rights. So, to answer your question, the answer to a security guard posing this question is no. They know they do not have the right to go through items like bags and when a security guard apprehends a person, they must be absolutely sure about it because if they are not - and are hindering the freedom of an innocent person, they are committing a crime and may loose their jobs and get convicted themselves.

As to the consequences of the delay, it is hard to give a definite answer since you do not mention what it consisted of but such a claim is to be directed toward the company where the security guard is employed. The guards are never "store-owned", they always have their contract with a security company and that company is responsible for damages that their personnel have caused during a workshift.

I hope I answered your questions and I sincerely hope this does not happen to you again!

AnnaSara Jarius
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