Reader question: A security guard in my local Monoprix asked me recently if he could check my bag as I was leaving as I had not bought anything in the shop. Is this legal?
A security guard can look inside your bag. Article L.613-2 of the Domestic Security Code (code de la sécurité intérieure) gives the right to people working in the role of security or surveillance to carry out “visual inspections” of bags (including handbags, suitcases, shopping bags or other).
However, they are not allowed to “rummage” in the bag, they can only look.
Only a police officer or gendarme can rummage through your bag. It means that if you refuse the security guard’s request to search your bag, they can only call on the assistance of the police to carry out the inspection but they cannot force you to let them look in your bag.
It should be noted that it is only security guards that have the legal right to carry out this visual inspection of a bag.
Some shops in France have a sign saying that cashiers (caissières) may inspect your bags. While cashiers may ask if they can see in your bag, you are under no legal obligation to say yes.
If you refuse, they can call on the shop’s security guard to carry out the inspection.