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NEWS: Burglar Defense Guidelines Issued (UK)

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posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 08:57 AM
Police and prosecutors in England and Wales have jointly published a leaflet containing advice on how to legally protect yourself in your own home. The leaflet is supposed to combat the existing confusion regarding what steps a homeowner can legally take when confronted with an intruder.
Householders who injure or even kill intruders are unlikely to be prosecuted - providing they are acting "honestly and instinctively", new guidelines say.

The law also protects those who use "something to hand" as a weapon.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

I'm posting this primarily to highlight the differences in US and UK law, and expect that many Americans will be amazed to learn how relatively helpless people over here are when it comes to defending themselves in their own homes. There was some talk of changing the law, but instead the decision was made to "clarify" the existing law via this leaflet. The main point of clarification is this: "Doing what you "honestly and instinctively" believed was necessary would be the strongest evidence of acting lawfully..."

In fact, the law itself isn't really all that bad; people are allowed to use "reasonable force", but in practice the law has often tended to come down on the side of the intruder. Most people I've spoken to believe that they are expected to ask the intruder to leave (!), and can only use force if they are directly threatened with violence to themselves or others. (Presumably, you're supposed to stand by and watch quietly while the burglar finishes his job...)

Conservative leaders, backed by many in the law enforcement community, are calling for the law to be strengthened by outlawing only "excessive and gratuitous" force. (This would appear to be on par with US laws...)

Related News Links:

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 10:53 AM
The problem is the press yet again. When they report that a housholder has been setenced for shooting a burglar they forget to mention some small details, for example : the burglar was shot in the back whilst running away from the house. I think you would call that extreme. There are also plenty of cases where burglars are confronted and the householder doesn't go to jail but these incidents are rarely reported. Hence we are left with the wrong impression.

Remember bad news that gets people angry sells papers. Good news doesn't.

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 11:12 AM

But knocking someone unconscious then killing them or hurting them further, or setting a trap for an intruder without involving the police were given as examples of "excessive and gratuitous" force

I especially like the trap part but I wonder if that includes getting a large dog after being burglarized and subsequently having him maul the intruder on a return trip to the scene of the crime? At least the UK goverment is moving to make people more aware of their abilites and sometimes lack thereof to protect themselves. It seems to be the trend in the US that we don't become aware till we find ourselves on trial for shooting an attacker.

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 11:24 AM
Its good to see that the government have issued something to the public to clarify the laws, and let us know where we stand, with regards to intruders to our homes. There has been confusion for a long time regarding this matter, which hasn't been helped by several high profile cases highling what is for most a grey area.

The problem is the press yet again.

I agree with this sentiment whole heartedly. The newspapers, particularly the tabloids, are sensationalists, and as you say, will print the story that they think will sell the most copies.
Its unfortunate, because the tabloid press could use this info and play an important role in reducing burglaries. I mean, if they covered the information in a decent size feature, letting people know the score, and more importantly, letting potential burglars know the score, it would act as a more effective deterant.

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 01:23 PM
I don't care what the law says - if I discover an intruder in my home I will kill them running away or not. If my neighbors don't hear anything I wont be calling the police & I will dispose of the body.

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 02:39 PM
Hold it right there intruder, I just need to read my helpful government leaflet again to determine the amount of force I able to use against you

What a complete and utter waste of time. Faced with an intruder, I am gonna take him down and remove the threat to myself.
You can't put in place traps or anything that will cause injury to an intruder.
Nothing has changed in the level of force you can use to protect yourself. If you do then you are an easily prosecuted target for the Chief Constables yearly tally of solved crimes, and a compensation payout to the intruder.

I work, and have done for many years, in the private security sector. Even guarding staff on private property have no more powers of arrest or defence than the ordinary man in the street. And if an intruder should hurt himself whilst on your property he can even have the cause of his injury investigated by the Health and Safety Executive to determine whether his injury was caused by negligence on the part of the building owner. The law is skewed in favour of the criminal and it's about time the authorities recognised this fact.
I'm not advocating violence or murder but simple common sense on the part of the police and CPS.

posted on Feb, 1 2005 @ 04:25 PM
Good one, Britguy!

OK, maybe the press does hype it up a bit, and maybe there's not that much wrong with the law itself. But the fact remains that a homeowner in the UK is very, very much more likely to end up being charged with assault and/or paying compensation to the dirtbag who broke into their house.

And sorry, malcr, this is nothing to do with the case of that guy who shot those people in the back. I did have quite a bit of sympathy for him, as he'd been terrorized by lowlifes for a very long time, but shooting them in the back was illegal. Understandable, perhaps, but still illegal. And he paid his debt.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 03:13 AM
Azeari of the Radiant Eye you have been well and truly conned by the press. This topic was on radio 4 this morning where a lawyer involved in these cases was being interviewed. He said that in the last 15 years there have only be 11 cases brought to court , not convictions just cases.

This does not seem to me like a householder being "very very likely to be charged" does it. What happens is that one of those cases is in the press for months. The original charge, the biased reporting, lack of details. They than have the extra special 4 page pullout. Then a few months later when the case goes to court it reappears several times as the case takes weeks to complete. The net effect is that that one badly reported case sounds like hundreds ! You have been well and truly conned.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 03:55 AM
So you're quoting the press to prove that I've been conned by the press??

I never read the tabloids, and certainly the BBC seems less biased than some outlets are. I thought their report that I quoted was well balanced, although perhaps they could have dug a little deeper and found those stats you're talking about.

Anyway, if what you say is true, then I stand corrected. But should I just take your word that some lawyer says only 11 cases in the past 15 years? Is that his personal estimate, the number of cases he's been personally involved with, or does he have an actual source for the data? I've looked but haven't been able to find any online resource that breaks these things down.

The perception is: the law is sort of OK, cops do their best, but then lily-livered liberal judges get involved and come down on the side of the poor, misunderstood criminal.

If the perception doesn't match the reality, then work needs to be done to change the perception.

The bottom line, for most people, is: if someone breaks into your house, then they've made their choice and should be prepared for the consequences.

From the perspective of an American living here, it seems that trespassing in general is seen as a very minor offense, which is the key difference between how these crimes are dealt with.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 04:31 AM
Anybody defending themselves against an assault can themselves be charged if they get the better of the attacker, I have seen this happen firsthand.
The police and CPS are so keen to get the arrest rates and prosecution figres up that they go for soft targets, those that are easily prosecuted.
Unfortunately, that means people getting stitched up for minor offences that years ago would have gotten you a talking to by the local officer.

A couple of years ago my flatmate was arrested, charged and sebsequently prosecuted for an assault on a 14 year old. On the day in question, the 14 year old and his buddies started a fire at the apartment block in which I live. Luckily I was the only person in and saw it in time to put it out. a little later my flatmate came home and saw that this kid and his mates were back again so grabbed him, gave him a talking to and sent him on his way. Over a month later the police came and arrested him.
They had no evidence to back up the kids claims of injury but the CPS went ahead anyway. So, my flatmate gets a criminal record and fined £500, part of which went to the lad in compensation.
Myself, all the neighbours and even my flatmates solicitor could not belive they went ahead and prosecuted. Just another soft target to get the end of year stats up to scratch.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 04:53 AM
Thanks for that,'s always good to get first-hand accounts to balance out the "some lawyer said" arguments.

Also, this particular event would not have been filed under "homeowner self-defense", would it? Granted, this thread is about self-defense in the home, but there's a wider issue of how ordinary citizens can protect themselves (and others, and property) from criminals.

We had a similar experience with yobs setting fire to stuff, except we never actually caught the little beggars. When we called the police, though, they said "are you sure they meant to set the fire?". Unbelieveable. We said, well maybe it's possible that they piled up a bunch of flamable stuff in the barn and accidentally dropped a match on it...

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 05:12 AM
Britguy, that's bad to hear mate, but I have also witnessed the complete opposite happen.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine returned home from a night out to find his house had been broken into. There was a lot of property missing, and there were numerous items stacked on the landing at the top of the stairs, ready to go. My friend assumed the intruders would soon be back and grabbed a knife from the kitchen, went back upstairs and hid in his room. Sure enough, the burglar came back, so my friend pounced on him and stuck the knife in his gut, kicked him down the stairs, knifed him in the hallway, then chased him out and stabbed him in the kidney as he was getting into his mate's car.
My friend called the police, was arrested for questioning, and released the next day without charge. In fact, the police seemed to be glad that my friend 'did' the scumbag, as he was a known burglar/junkie/gang gofer. On questioning the scumbag, the police coerced him into saying that he was knifed in a pub car-park fight with no witnesses. Case closed.

I think this goes to show that although there are the 'jobsworth' type police who'll do whatever it takes to bost the figures, there are also those who sympathise with the common person and their right to defend their home.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 06:03 AM
I think a big problem these days lies in the fact that the old area beat copper has disappeared and a lot of the older, more experienced officers have left the force. Those that have replaced them, to be honest, leave a lot to be desired.
I have had a lot of dealings with the police over the last few years, both professionally and personally and most of them I wouldn't trust to guard a sweet shop.
The police forces and CPS are target driven and common sense has no meaning. The CPS will let offenders plead guilty to lesser charges to have a case dealt with quicker. After all, it still gets logged as a "prosecution" for the the stats.

posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 06:15 AM
Can I get my blunderbuss grandfathered in? I'll load it with environmentally friendly rock salt and promise not to aim for the eyes.

The distinction is poorly defined, from a legal point of view, no matter how many pamphlets they print. That's nothing new for English law, they've been writing them like that for quite a few centuries now. The pamphlet cracked me up though, it reminded me of the Patriot Act information campaign a couple of years ago. Not that there's any relation, there might be but that's not the point, the point is that these brochures are used to 'dumb down' and generalize laws to the point individual citizens have no idea whether or not they're affected by any given legislation. The lines are steadily blurred between branches of government, followed by increasing compartmentalization..this is all following a pattern folks. I'm off on a tangent now, back to where we started..

Telling someone there are legal penalties for protecting their house and home is tantamount to sanctioning criminality. When the burglar can sue you for lost wages due to the ankle he broke climbing your fence, your society has failed you.

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