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Lord Judge Affirms Householders Right to Defend Property Against Burglars

Posted on the 28 September 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

Homeowners have the right to defend themselves, Britain's top judge says. Homeowners have the right to defend themselves, Britain’s top judge says. Photo credit: James Cridland, http://flic.kr/p/8AqBAj

The background

Britain’s most senior legal authority, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, defended the right of homeowners to use force to protects themselves, their families and their property during a press conference this week.

Characterising burglary as an “offense against the person”, Lord Judge explained, “The householder is entitled to use reasonable force to get rid of the burglar, and in measuring whether the force is reasonable or not you’re not doing a paper exercise six months later. You’ve got to put yourself in the position of a man or a woman who has reacted to the presence of a burglar and has reacted with fury, with anxiety and fear.” The claim came two days after two men who attempted to break into a remote cottage were confronted by a shotgun-wielding and very angry owner. The men, who were injured, were arrested when they went to hospital for treatment; but the homeowners were also arrested and kept in custody for 40 hours before being released.

So, should burglars expect to risk injury in their line of, ahem, work?

Lord Judge speaks sense

The Telegraph, in a leading editorial, cheered the Lord Judge’s words as sense itself: “At last we are hearing words from the judiciary that match the concerns of the populace.” Someone should tell the police, the paper added, enraged that the homeowners in the shotgun incident were also arrested and held for nearly two days. “While the police were obliged to question the couple about the circumstances of the shooting, this is precisely what Lord Judge meant about victims being treated as criminals…. We trust the police will take heed of what the Lord Chief Justice has said and stop treating the victims of such crimes as though they, too, are potentially guilty of an offense.”

Praiseworthy judge

Lord Judge’s comments were welcome, coming as they do several weeks after Judge Peter Bower’s comment that burglary takes “courage”, a letter-writer told The Independent. “To be blunt, it’s funny how quickly a liberal can become a conservative on crime when something terrible happens to them or theirs. But why should giving victims of crime the right to defend themselves upset liberals? Judges get a lot of grief from the media, so it’s good to be able to praise them when they talk common sense.”


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