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8 fascinating questions about a security guard, which you did not know the answer to before

Certainly you or someone close to you has come into contact with a security guard for some reason or other. This is often considered a negative experience, but on the other hand, a security guard is also very helpful. In addition to their main task of maintaining order and protecting property, a security guard looks after the well-being of all of us. Above all, they are there to help all of us.

People often have questions regarding the work of a security guard. Juhan Aia, training manager at Viking Security, will answer the most common questions, which have caused lively discussions during training and when responding to clients, but also among security guards themselves or even among Juhan’s friends and acquaintances. The wording of the questions is unchanged, so there are some slang words and slightly emotional expressions in them. Viking’s training manager explains how things really are.

Why is the security guard watching me all the time?

A shop is usually monitored using a video surveillance system, but sometimes also directly – a security guard is present in the sales area. If there are, for example, 100 people in a shop, it is probably not possible for one security guard to monitor all of them all the time. As a customer in a shop, I have also felt that sometimes this feeling of being a ‘suspect’ can be caused by the serious and deeply appraising look of a security guard. Security guards constantly monitor what is happening in the sales area, without always suspecting anyone in particular.

Do I have to have a receipt for each item I bring into the shop?

Not, but it can make things easier. If a security guard detains a person on suspicion of a crime (for example, theft), it must be justified: the security guard sees it or witnesses point to it or other circumstances indicate it. The mere absence of a receipt is not evidence enough to claim that the goods have not been paid for. You can’t even have a receipt for everything. Of course, any misunderstandings that arise for any reason will be resolved faster if you have the receipt with you.

Can I consume a product before checkout?

A purchase-sale transaction takes place at the checkout, during which the shop transfers the ownership (of the product) to the customer. If the transaction has not taken place (the customer has not yet paid for the product), then the product belongs to the shop, meaning that it is the property of another for the customer. A situation where, for example, a parent comes to the shop on a hot summer day, takes a bottle of water from the shelf and gives their child a drink right there is completely understandable. We are considerate and follow the practices of good customer service: the most important is that the product is paid for at the checkout.

Why was I detained for no reason, even though I’m not guilty of anything?

Unfortunately, all people make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes the client who gives the hint, the shop employee or even the security guard can draw the wrong conclusion – a false suspicion arises. In terms of security work, we legally speak of a suspicion of having committed an offence. The offence is investigated by the police, and the final decision is made by the court. A thorough review of video recordings sometimes takes time. But a decision whether to check the client or not needs to be made quickly on the spot. With the help of careful and thorough monitoring, the importance of which we constantly emphasise to our employees, we want to keep the number of these mistakes as minimal as possible and not bother law-abiding customers.

Do I have to go to the security room and show my belongings?

The security guard can explain, ask and propose to go to the security room so that the person can voluntarily show their belongings. However, a person is not obligated to do so. The goal is to resolve the incident without too much public attention and in a more time-efficient manner for the customer. As soon as the suspicion of having committed an offence is ruled out, the visitor is free to go. Before that, the detainee is not allowed to go anywhere. The task of the security guard is primarily to prevent the departure of the person until the circumstances are clear. Obviously, it is also important that the security guard thoroughly explains to the visitor the rights and obligations of the parties of the case.

Why is it that sometimes several guards are taking down one crook?

The use of physical force is justified when a suspect tries to escape or even attacks a security guard or threatens them in some other way. If the security guard is forced to restrain the offender alone, more intense force needs to be used, which is why there is a greater risk of injury. The security guard is also more at risk. Moreover, the so-called one-to-one detention may not go very smoothly and disturb the visitors of the shop more. So, whenever possible, as many employees as possible are involved in detaining the suspect.

Can pepper spray be used indoors?

A security guard may use pepper spray if someone’s life or health is in danger, the situation is suitable for it, and it is not possible to eliminate the danger in any other way. Mostly the use of pepper spray comes into question in the case of an attack that threatens life or health. The guards try to avoid using pepper spray indoors, but in some extreme cases there is no other option. Gas sprays with a more localised effect are being used more and more, to disturb bystanders as little as possible. Does a security guard ever smile? They do 🙂