My Rights

Security officers, mall guards, and private individuals – what can they do?

Security officers and mall guards are private individuals, and all individuals can in specific circumstances interfere with your privacy, detain, and even make arrests. But they do not have the same powers as police officers. If you are arrested by a private individual – including a security or mall guard – they must hand you over to a police officer as soon as possible.

Here are some examples of what private individuals – including security guards and mall guards – can do:

Arrest you if they actually see you committing certain criminal offences.
Arrest you if you are being chased by the police, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a criminal offence.
Interfere, if they witness a breach of the peace, in order to stop it or to prevent it from starting up again.
Detain people who commit a breach of the peace, or are about to join in or restart a breach of the peace. The purpose of the detention must be to hand the person over to a police officer. When a private person is detaining another person, they must use no more force than is necessary, and the force used must be proportionate to the danger feared from the activity.
Property owners, and people authorized by property owners (including security guards), can arrest individuals who they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to their property, or for trespassing on their private property. They can arrest the person on the spot, or a within a reasonable amount of time after the offence if they reasonably believe that it is not possible for a police officer to make the arrest.