Making Trespass Notices Work

By Sergeant Matt Murray, Waitemata District, New Zealand Police

A common tactic in the fight against shoplifting crime is to use a trespass notice to ban certain persons from returning to stores after they have been apprehended committing an offence. Trespass notices primarily serve two purposes: they keep offenders off store property, and if they return they can be subject to much harsher legal penalties (like burglary charges).

Normally trespass notices are for a specific store or location, but there’s a second type of more serious trespass notice, called a blanket trespass.

A blanket trespass is a trespass notice that forbids a person from entering multiple locations that have a connection, for example being part of the same company, or part of a larger shopping centre.

A good example of a blanket trespass is when an offender is apprehended shoplifting from a specific store in West Auckland, and then trespassed from all Auckland (or even North Island) stores of the same retailer.

In another scenario, a shoplifter could be caught stealing from one store at a shopping mall, and issued with a blanket trespass notice prohibiting them from entering the shopping mall at all or any stores connected to it.

While many stores have used blanket trespasses to reduce the risk of reoffending and help deter future thefts, the courts can also see blanket trespass as unreasonably restricting a person’s free movement, and thus be invalid.

In order for a blanket trespass order to be considered justified and legal by the court, it’s necessary for the order issuer to show that a person is reasonably likely to trespass at each and every location listed in the blanket trespass notice. In my experience this is extremely difficult to prove to the satisfaction required for a successful prosecution.

Recently we have seen more of these blanket trespasses invalidated by the courts, to the extent that Police are now discouraging their use except in exceptional circumstances.

There are circumstances where blanket trespass orders may be held as lawful, however I strongly recommend retailers and loss prevention officers seek legal advice prior to issuing blanket orders to ensure they are justified and likely to hold up in court.

However, issuing an individual trespass notice to offenders for single locations is still justified and proper. Police continue to support their use as an alternative to blanket trespasses, as they are more readily enforceable and likely to hold up in court.

By working together on this issue to ensure we are all following correct legal procedure we can continue to produce successful outcomes, and enact useful deterrents that help prevent future crime.

[Editor’s Note: It’s easy with Auror to identify stores where an offender has a history of theft so you can include those locations in a trespass notice. Be sure to check out an offender’s profile to see where they have previously been observed as active so you can include those in a trespass order.]