Editorial: Burglars are already bashable

 

Share
Related Topics

There is little a Conservative Party conference likes so well as to be given permission to bash a burglar; much better than being told to hug a hoodie. The new Justice Secretary's plans to allow householders to use "disproportionate" force against intruders might, therefore, always be expected to prove popular.

There are two problems. The first is that the law already says that disproportionate force is permissible, where homeowners act instinctively and fear for their safety. New legislation changing the language so that only "grossly disproportionate" force is outlawed will, in practice, amount to the same thing as the existing law.

The second difficulty is that, under Chris Grayling's new system, the two cases which particularly outrage the Tory right – that of Tony Martin, who fired a gun at a burglar who was running away, and that of Munir Hussain, who chased an intruder down the road and beat him with a cricket bat – would remain illegal.

The new legislation will, therefore, change little. What will make a difference is the way judges, prosecutors and the police interpret the law. And here, the necessary changes have already been made.

The Crown Prosecution Service updated its guidance in May, making clear that householders can use force if they genuinely believe themselves to be in peril and clarifying that one need not wait to be struck before defending oneself. Similarly, the Lord Chief Justice ruled last month that burgled householders should not be expected to exercise calm, cool judgement, and that if they legally own a gun any intruder must accept the risk of being shot.

Past problems have come from householders from being held by police until the CPS rules out a prosecution. It will still be incumbent upon the police to investigate, although recent signals from judges and prosecutors should discourage unnecessary arrests. With so much already in place, Mr Grayling's initiative looks little more than a conference crowd-pleaser.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN English Teacher

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: The Job......This role will e...

Primary Teachers Needed in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobRandstad Educa...

Geography Teacher

£110 - £200 per day + pension and childcare: Randstad Education Maidstone: Geo...

KS1 Teacher

£110 - £120 per annum + TBA: Randstad Education Reading: KS1 Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: fathers looking after children, World Cup questions and Nostradamus

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice