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Security guards and others

The right of a private citizen to make an arrest is rarely used in practice. Examples of when a person can make a citizen's arrest include where:

  • someone is found damaging (or committing some other offence to) the citizen's property [Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 76]
  • a person is attempting to commit an offence, but once a person stops the attempt, the power to make the arrest ceases
  • if the citizen is offered property that he or she reasonably believes is stolen [Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 77]
  • a store detective or security guard arrests a person committing an offence against his or her employer.

Suspecting someone of having committed an offence is not enough for a citizens arrest. The civilian must see the offender commit the offence. Anyone exercising a power of arrest must be careful because a person wrongly arrested can sue for false arrest and obtain damages or compensation. If a citizen's arrest is made the arrested person must be handed over to the police without delay and a full explanation given (in writing) of the reasons for the arrest.

Security guards and others  :  Last Revised: Wed Jun 16th 2004
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.