Monitor: Burglary in norfolk

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The Independent Culture
Comment following the shooting of a 16-year-old burglar by Tony Martin, the property's owner

The Mirror

SOMEONE WHO is burgling your house is clearly wrong. Yet, as the divided reaction to this case shows, there is a lot of sympathy with the victims of crime. People must have read this tragic story and thought: "There but for the grace of God ..."

The Evening

Standard

THE LAW properly forbids the use of unnecessary and undue force in cases where landowners seek to eject trespassers. But what constitutes undue force? What if a man is alone and outnumbered, living in an isolated area. What if the police cannot be relied on to respond quickly to an emergency call? The rules that apply in London may not hold in the countryside. In any discussion of rural crime the question of inadequate police provision must be addressed. Rationalisation of regional police services sounds fine in theory - but not if it leaves the villages of England without adequate protection from organised criminals.

The Sun

BY THE end of Friday 20 August, police had arrested a local farmer, Tony Martin, for allegedly shooting two men he caught attempting to burgle his farmhouse. One of the men died. Good. Blown Away For Thieving, as one newspaper wailed. Serves him right. We employ the police to protect us. When they fail to do that, we should be entitled to defend ourselves. Once a burglar gains entry to your property, the contract between public and police has broken down. And you should be entitled to take any action necessary against the intruder, up to and including shooting them dead. Someone who breaks into a home puts himself outside the law and forfeits his rights. (Richard Littlejohn)

The Times

THE MURDER mystery engulfing East Anglian farmer Tony Martin is not part of some satisfying intellectual puzzle for Inspector Dalgleish. It is a stark moral rebuke for the policemen with whom P D James's middle- class readers have to deal. No citizen, however frustrated with the failure of the police to protect them, should act in defiance of the law. Vigilantes inflict damage on the moral order which is their best protection. When citizens can neither rebuke young thugs for rowdiness, nor cause burglars to think twice before trespassing, for fear of themselves being prosecuted, then the law is more than an ass. It is a rogue elephant trampling down the protection we all have a right to expect. (Michael Gove)

Daily

Telegraph

RURAL LIFE is becoming disfigured by petty vandalism and burglary, as increased mobility allows people from towns to travel easily into the countryside. Rural communities feel unable to defend themselves and look to the police for protection. Too often the police fail to meet this reasonable expectation. The law is clear that householders have the right to use reasonable force in defence of themselves and their property. But if the police cannot provide protection, the householder will need a more generous definition of self-defence. The violation of privacy and freedom that burglary involves is great: the householder should feel able to use whatever reasonable force is necessary to defeat it.

Daily Mail

IT ISN'T surprising that many believe that they can no longer rely on the police. Nor is it surprising that some come to believe, albeit misguidedly, that they must try to look after themselves. Such developments clearly cannot be tolerated. But the answer is straightforward. The police must return to the countryside. Britain is not, after all, the size of Australia. It is a small island, all of whose citizens - those in villages no less than those in towns - have an equal right to receive proper protection.

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