Changing the law to let householders tackle intruders with "necessary violence" would not lead to burglars arming themselves, the country's most senior policeman has said.
Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that had he been present when his own house was burgled in 1985, he would have used his truncheon and "a reasonable level of violence" to arrest them.
"Enabling householders to use whatever force is necessary will discourage burglars," he said. "The fact that a would-be intruder knows a householder can respond without the fear of being prosecuted will undoubtedly deter criminal acts."
The debate over householders' rights to defend their property was reignited when the Conservative party threw its weight behind calls from Sir John for reform of the law.
The government's legal chief, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, said: "We must protect victims and law-abiding citizens. But others have some rights as well. They don't lose all rights because they're engaged in criminal conduct."