Thursday, June 30, 2011

We'll see

I blogged recently on the right of homeowners/tenants to defend themselves against those who would choose to break into their properties, seems the circumstances of the people arrested who weren't the actual thieves has hit a nerve somewhere in the government.

Express.

USING “whatever force necessary” to repel a burglar means that stabbing them or hitting them with a poker won’t be a criminal offence, Justice Minister Ken Clarke said yesterday.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Clarke said that under plans to clarify the law on self-defence “we will make it quite clear you can hit a burglar with a poker if he’s in your house and you have a perfect defence when you do so.
“If an old lady finds she’s got an 18-year-old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him, she has not committed a criminal offence, and we will make that clear.”
Mr Clarke has come under attack over what was seen as his soft stance on sentencing.
He accepted the defence of reasonable force already exists, but said: “Given that doubts are expressed, we are going to clarify that. What people are not entitled to do is go running down the road chasing them or shooting them in the back when they are running away or to get their friends together and go and beat them up.
We all know what we mean when we say a person has an absolute right to defend themselves and their home with reasonable force.
“Nobody should prosecute and nobody should ever convict anybody who takes these steps.”
 So what is reasonable force? Well the government and the laws view seems to be that you can only defend yourself if your assailant or other villain is facing you, the minute they run away it's no longer reasonable force. My idea of reasonable force is that anyone who breaks into my home or threatens me and mine should never be given an opportunity to do the like again and if that means chasing them down the road whilst shooting them in the back, then that strikes me as fairly reasonable. Suspect from the comments I got that my position isn't that unreasonable to most who read my stuff and if anything is a little mild. To me (and others) the minute you illegally enter a premises with the intention of breaking the law, then whatever rights you have, have gone out of the window and God help you if you run away, the only option you have should be surrender because running away means you might come back later so makes you fair game.
Too many of our politicians and lawmakers and enforcers don't really live in the real world where there is an ongoing problem with crime, they live in nice communities away from the reality of living with the fear of attack or robbery. Perhaps if they hadn't spent so much time disarming us (for our our own protection) and gave us more control over our lives and safety, we wouldn't be talking about this.
As it is, I really don't see anything in Ken Clarke's statement that gives me cause to rejoice, he's just stated the law as it stands and hasn't given any guarantees that people wont be arrested simply for defending themselves, until the law is changed to remove the "reasonable" force clause, then this I'm afraid is simply just soundbite policy on the hoof.
Give us the right to really defend ourselves, then perhaps I might just change my mind about what is and isn't reasonable.

6 annotations:

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Who decides what is and isn't "reasonable force"?

Surely only the man (or woman) on the spot can possibly decide. Has anyone tried to build a legal argument out of that?

Sir Henry Morgan said...

What does the army do?

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Discriminate against civilians now, do we? A soldier encounters an intruder on the base ... near the armoury, so what does the army say he should do?

His brother - a civilian - discovers an intruder in his home; what would that same soldier say he should do?

DerekP said...

To the politicians and judges 'reasonable force' means that a sleeping, unarmed, pajama-clad householder woken and alarmed by a prepared, predatory intruder (whose intent will only be known if he wins) must use less force defending his family than would be used by an alert, fit, trained, armed policeman who can call for immediate backup.

... or he'll be arrested and prosecuted for scaring the 'burglar', no matter what Fatty says.

Harry Hook said...

The think is... how are you to know if a burglar "running away" is not a tactical withdrawl to get a weapon, or more gang members? That would be my concern.

James Higham said...

The sooner someone sane gets in [never] and legislates that an English person's home is his/her castle, full stop, then it all sorts itself out.