A victory for good sense, if a belated one

Warr Zone with Simon Warr

LORD Chief Justice Lord Judge stated last week that “if your home is burgled and you’re in there, you have the right to get rid of the burglar”. Michael Pert, QC, added that being shot was simply a chance a burglar took. How refreshing to hear some common sense.

It was, until recently, acknowledged that homeowners could attack a burglar only if their lives were in mortal danger and, furthermore, it was incumbent on homeowners to retreat from an attacker when acting in self defence. The law stated “we had to retreat, if possible, into a safe place in the house and call the police”. It wasn’t surprising that much resentment arose from this seemingly favourable treatment of the burglar over the unfortunate victim.

Now, as long as grossly disproportionate force is not used, homeowners can feel safe in the knowledge that if a piece of low-life breaks into their home in the dead of night, armed with some crude weapon, innocent victims are not going to be hauled before the courts for attempting to protect their family and property.

Up until now, we’ve not had a clear idea of what we were allowed to do. We were told we had to react reasonably – what is reasonable on these occasions? Do the law makers really believe a victim of burglary is in a normal, stable emotional state when confronted in the dead of night by a criminal?

It’s important for us all to make our homes as safe as possible: buy an alarm, ensure there’s good lighting outside, and keep a watch on each other’s property.

Once we’ve taken all these precautions, we then have to rely on the law to protect us as far as is possible.

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The issue was brought up at this week’s Conservative Party conference. The Government has stated unequivocally we are no longer in danger of being prosecuted if we mount an energetic defence of property and our family. What a pity it has taken so long to come to this palpably fair judgement.