i Editor's Letter: Are burglars 'brave'?


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The Independent Online


Many stories of late appear to turn on the thorny issue of "does the punishment fit the crime?" Today alone we have John Terry's four-match ban and fine of £220,000 – and yes, I know that this doesn't refer to a criminal case.

But when Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, spoke out to endorse the words of Judge Michael Pert QC, who had told two burglars – shot mid-raid by householders Andy and Tracey Ferrie – "that is the risk you take", it was clear that there was a good deal of calculated intent behind his intervention.

Lord Judge's words: "Burglary is an offence against the person because a break-in destroys victims' peace of mind by violating the safe haven of their home"; "the householder is entitled to use reasonable force to get rid of the burglar"; "you've got to put yourself in the position of a man or a woman reacting... with fury, anxiety and fear"; and most of all: "Occasionally, it looks as though the householder is the criminal" will have struck a chord with a huge majority of the population.

Coming as it does so relatively soon after the comments of misguided Judge Peter "Burglars are brave" Bowers, Lord Judge's new pronouncement will be cheered by many in the country, not just Conservative MPs and voters. 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.