Author Topic: Clarifying UK home defense law  (Read 4748 times)


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Clarifying UK home defense law
« on: February 01, 2005, 11:50:43 AM »
Britons May Kill in Self-Defense, Law Enforcers Say (Update1)

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Britons may kill intruders to their homes in self-defense, so long as the householders have used ``reasonable force,'' U.K. law enforcers said in a leaflet designed to clarify British law.

Householders are entitled to protect themselves using weapons and may use defensive force before being attacked if they are in fear of their lives or those of others, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service said today in an e-mailed leaflet.

At least 11 people have been prosecuted in the past 15 years for attacking intruders in houses, commercial premises or private land, U.K. Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said on Jan. 13. Seven of those cases were as a result of a domestic household burglary.

May I point out that 11 prosecutions in 15 years doesn't exactly tally with the media perception that UK law sides with the criminal.

``Prosecutions of householders for tackling intruders are extremely rare,'' Macdonald said today. ``Even where householders have badly injured, or even killed burglars, the CPS has declined to prosecute unless they have used wholly excessive force.''

He was just on Channel 4 news stating that the vast majority of cases where homeowners have shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, or otherwise killed burglars have not led to any prosecution.

*pats escrima stick tucked neatly by the bed*


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Advice on tackling intruders given to householders
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2005, 05:15:37 PM »
15 prosecutions sounds resonable; any idea how many in depth investigations there were? I read in an article last week that a police department out your way spent 10,000 Pounds Sterling gathering evidence to convict a nursery school teacher of driving while eating an apple; one wonders how tenacious the same officers would be investigating a murder, and what impact that would have on the citizen.

From the Times UK Online.

Advice on tackling intruders given to householders
(Filed: 01/02/2005)

Police are issuing a leaflet advising householders how much force they can use against burglars.

The guidelines come nearly three weeks after Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, announced the law would not be changed to allow more violence to be used against intruders.

Today's leaflet from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers will attempt to clear up confusion on how much force a resident can be used to defend their homes without being charged themselves.

At present the law says "reasonable force" can be used by householders, but campaigners complain that too many are subject to police investigation.

A CPS spokesman said: "The leaflet gives some guidance on what might be regarded as reasonable force."

The guidance, which appears in a Q&A form, tells readers: "You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment. So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defence. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon."

It also covers the question: What if the intruder dies?

The answer is: "If you have acted in reasonable self-defence, as described above, and the intruder dies you will still have acted lawfully. Indeed, there are several such cases where the householder has not been prosecuted. However, if, for example:  having knocked someone unconscious, you then decided to further hurt or kill them to punish them; or you knew of an intended intruder and set a trap to hurt or to kill them rather than involve the police, you would be acting with very excessive and gratuitous force and could be prosecuted."

The publication will be distributed through Citizens' Advice Bureaux and police forces in England and Wales.

Mr Clarke said last month that discussions with police and prosecutors had concluded that the existing law was "sound".

He called on officials to educate the public about how far they can go to defend their property under current law.

Today he said he the leaflet "sets out in plain language what householders' rights are and the level of force they can use when confronted by an intruder".

The debate over householders' rights was triggered by Sir John Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, saying people should be allowed to use what force was necessary when tackling intruders without facing prosecution.

In the past 15 years, only 11 people had been prosecuted after attacking intruders, including cases in which burglars had been pursued and shot as they fled, and one in which an intruder was tied up and set alight.