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Police want 'tesco jails' in every shopping centre

UK Daily Mail | August 1, 2007

Retailers are calling for short-term prisons, dubbed "Tesco jails", to be compulsory in all shopping centres.

Police are backing the proposals to help tackle shoplifting, which costs £767 million in England and Wales last year.

Suspects could be held for up to four hours in the units, allowing police to identify them, take a DNA sample and handout cautions or reprimands if required.

Police also want mobile units at major sporting venues as a way of quickly dealing with football hooligans and drunks.

The Home Office confirmed it was looking at plans for "short term holding facilities" which could be used to lock up and process suspects.

The main purpose of "Tesco jails" would be to help police process high-volume crimes like shoplifting, large-scale public disorder and big protests.

It is hoped the units would enable officers to get back on the streets more quickly.

Sergeant David Warren, of Kent Police, told the Times that the "jails" were exactly what forces such as his needed.

He told the newspaper: "Short-term holding facilities should not be restricted to shopping centres, but should be an option that the police should use at other facilities such as smaller police stations, sporting or entertainment centres, hospital sites or local authority sites."

And a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium told the newspaper: "It should be compulsory for retail shopping centres to provide these facilities and it is vital that they operate against strict criteria."

The consortium said retailers would provide space for the cells but funding, management and upkeep should come from the local police service.

And a spokesman for the body also told the newspaper that it didn't want to end up "becoming a babysitting service" for people who had been taken into custody.

But lawyers and magistrates voiced concern and insisted that there would have to be safeguards to ensure high standards of care for those held.

Sonia Andrews, from the Magistrates' Association was said to be "seriously concerned" and she told the newspaper that "speed is being put before the individual and [the short-term jail system] is a downgrading to the entire approach to crime."

And Sue Johnson, of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said short-term jails would be "rapidly abused and overcrowded".

According to the Times, discussions have already started about having a "retail jail" inside Selfridges in Oxford Street, London.

Suspects there would be held in a small room with a clear plastic front so they were visible to custody officers.

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