Two recent incidents have raised the question of how far a retailer should go to defend themselves and their stock from criminals.

Bury retailer Mohammed Javed made national headlines last month after he threw tins of cat food at men who attempted to rob his store at gun point. Mohammed was praised for his courage by local police for his bravery but later said he regretted putting his life in danger.

However, police in Derby recently arrested a store owner on suspicion of assault after he tackled shoplifters and held them until the police arrived. He was released after a night in a cell, but told the Derby Evening Telegraph “Why was I arrested? Because the police listened to the shoplifters and not me. They should be ashamed.”

Spar Tates loss prevention manager Mark Stevenson encourages retailers not to retaliate. “Staff safety is the number one priority and we always advise them to let criminals have what they want,” he said. 

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman also advises retailers to avoid escalation. “The interpretation of law has become increasingly clear in the past few years in its support for those acting in self defence or protecting their staff or property,” he said. “However, no retailer should have a personal or store policy of taking the law into their own hands. The right policy is always to avoid conflict if possible and seek assistance from the police.”