Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stabbing Burglars in Self Defence to be Legal

Via the BBC: Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said a householder who knifes a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England.
He told the BBC people were entitled to use "whatever force necessary" to protect themselves and their homes.
Asked about what this would mean in practice, he said: "If an old lady finds she's got an 18 year old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear."
He added: "We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he's in the house and you have a perfect defence when you do so."
Mr Clarke said legal protection would not extend to anyone shooting a burglar in the back when they were fleeing or "getting their friends together to beat them up".

For my previous posts on self defence and lethal force, see here, here and here. Even if the law is amended as the Justice Secretary proposes, self defence issues are likely to be highly situational and judges will still have to make some tricky decisions. I doubt if this quick fix will prove to be as simple as its proponents might think.