Is it legal for staff to bare all in the name of charity?

09 February, 2007

QStaff at our store raised money last year with a nude calendar. This year, they're talking about going one better and baring all in the shop all day


raise money for the local hospice. Is this against the law?

A Nudity in a public place is not, in itself, against the law - otherwise many a gym changing room might find itself raided. However, police might argue that the presence of nude shop staff is enough to create distress or offence among members of the public that could lead to a breach of the peace.

The law can get a bit complicated in this area and if your staff were acting in an overtly sexual manner or annoying passers-by, the police might well demand that they cover themselves up. If a police officer tells a naked person to get dressed, the law is generally on the side of the cops and refusing to comply is likely to lead to arrest.

The best advice would be to give customers plenty of warning that staff are nude, shield the interior of the shop from public view, and to discuss your plans in advance with the local constabulary. Good luck, and don't forget to send us some pictures.

Q Can you recommend a supplier for the convex mirrors that help shop staff keep an eye on customers?

A These familiar mirrors have been part of the security arsenal of the off-trade for decades and are fairly cheap - you'll pay no more than about £60 for a small, basic model with the fixings included. But if you're serious about shop security, it may be worth putting that money towards a decent CCTV system with cameras aimed at every nook and cranny of the premises. That way, not only will you be able to keep tabs on every part of the shop, you'll also have a recording that may prove useful later on. Systems are coming down in price and increasing in spec, so the chances are you'll find a good

set up that suits your budget.

There are dozens of mirror suppliers: try online at, or

Q One of my customers has started buying his regular bottle of Scotch with plastic bags full of small change. At first I was grateful for the coins, but it takes ages to check the amounts are correct and I've asked him to pay with notes or by cheque. He says I am legally obliged to accept any coins of the realm he chooses to offer me. Is he right?

A No. The Royal Mint is clear on this subject and has issued a helpful guide to what constitutes legal tender. Although it would, in theory, be allowable for a customer to pay for a £200,000 house in £1 coins, there are limits to the spending power of smaller coins.

For 50ps and 20ps, the limit is £10; for 10ps and 5ps, the limit is £5; and if someone insists on paying with coppers, the value of their purchase must be a maximum of 20p unless the retailer decides otherwise.

While we're talking about money, it's worth reiterating that although Scottish bank notes are legal tender throughout the UK, notes issued in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are not acceptable on the mainland - even though they bear the image of the Queen.

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