UK & World News
Homeowners Get New Rights To Attack Burglars
Frightened householders who over-react when confronted by burglars will get more protection under new Government plans.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling plans to change the law to ensure even householders who use force in a way that may seem disproportionate in the cold light of day will be protected from prosecution.
It comes after Britain's most senior judge reinforced the notion that a person's home is their castle, saying furious householders have the right to get rid of burglars and are not expected to remain calm when confronted by intruders.
"Being confronted by an intruder in your own home is terrifying, and the public should be in no doubt that the law is on their side. "That is why I am strengthening the current law," Mr Grayling said.
"Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are victims of crime and should be treated that way. We need to dispel doubts in this area once and for all, and I am very pleased to be today delivering on the pledge that we made in Opposition."
Force which is "grossly disproportionate" will still be against the law, but this is a higher bar than the current law which says force must always be proportionate.
Primary legislation will be needed before the changes can come into force and no specific parliamentary time for this has yet been set.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said last month that burglary was an offence against the person, should always be treated seriously, and stressed that householders have the right to use force "to get rid of the burglar".
Community sentences are also being toughened up to ensure that all of the 220,000 orders handed out a year include a "proper punishment".
Overhauling his predecessor Ken Clarke's plans for a rehabilitation revolution, Mr Grayling said: "Yes, we should be looking to rehabilitate. But if someone has committed an offence, they also need to receive a proper punishment for it. That's part of how we can tackle re-offending and make these sentences really effective."