Retailers should not be used as a babysitting service for thieves, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned.
A Home Office consultation on the Review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act - Modernising Police Powers had suggested using short-term holding facilities in town and shopping centres, where criminals could be held while being supervised by a police officer.
Shoplifters could be kept for four hours so they could be fingerprinted, photographed and DNA-tested as a way of speeding up the handling of suspects and to save money, the paper suggested.
However, the BRC maintains that although plans to set up holding cells in shops might help combat retail crime, these should not be used to shift the responsibility of apprehending and holding criminals from police onto shop staff.
"The proposal has some merit," said BRC director general Kevin Hawkins. "However, cells in retail centres should never be used for the long-term detention of criminals, and shop staff should never be called on to fulfil the role of the police."
The Association of Convenience Stores said it encouraged retailers to work with the police to combat crime. "Some retailers already share their facilities with local officers and we believe this is a step in the right direction," said chief executive James Lowman.