Two recent incidents have raised the question of how far retailers 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 gunpoint. Mohammed was praised by local police for his bravery, but later said he regretted putting his life in danger.

However, police in Derby took a different view and 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 advises retailers not to retaliate. "Staff safety is the top priority and we always advise letting criminals have what they want," he said.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman added: "The right policy is always to avoid conflict if possible and seek assistance from the police."