27 September 2007

Reasonable Self-Defence

Justice Secretary Jack Straw says the Government is to hold an urgent review of the law protecting those who intervene in criminal situations in England and Wales.

The Norfolk farmer Tony Martin perhaps most famously has been held up as an everyman's hero after he shot two intruders who had broken into his farmhouse in 1999, resulting the death of 16-year-old Fred Barras. However, as has been argued by others, his case was somewhat different from Jack Straw's "millisecond judgements" to intervene on four occasions after witnessing a robbery or burglary. For, while many of us might worry about being burgled and might install alarms and security lighting to deter intruders, few of us would acquire an unlicensed lethal weapon and wait in the dark for trespassers to strike, having first warned the police of our intentions, as Martin did after twice being broken into.

What do you think? Is the use of "proportionate, reasonable force" already permitted by the Criminal Law Act 1967 to apprehend suspects sufficient, or do we really need an urgent review? Or is this perhaps just a bit of "tough on crime" posturing before a likely election? Take the poll in the sidebar or leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

How do the Government's proposals differ from those previously announced by them? We seem to have heard it all before - and none of it stands up against the "clever" lawyers (who are financially rewarded by the taxpayer) who manage to get the perpetrator of the crime excused and the victim accused and fined or sent to prison.

No wonder ordinary members of the public do not wish to confront those they see committing petty crimes.

When I hear 6 years olds stating that they do not have to do what their childminder tells them because she is not their Mother, then I give up hope of them respecting and obeying teachers or police. The good thing is at least that the 6 year old in question did have a childminder to keep an eye on him after school hours.

Theo in Witney.

E A Bird said...

There is a bigger issue here. As the previous blogger implies there is a total lack of respect for any kind of law enforcement especially from the young. The ploice, shop keepers, school teachers and parents are all in danger of infringinging the "rights" of young people - and don't they know it!