Bill to allow homeowners to defend themselves and their property

People who feel threatened in their own homes will no longer have to flee and can stay to defend both themselves and their property under Government plans.

The proposed changes will make clear that people are under no duty to retreat from an attacker when acting in self-defence and can also use reasonable force to defend their property, as well as themselves.

In recent cases, self-defence has been deemed acceptable after a suspected intruder has been killed.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the changes, set out in a Bill to be considered by MPs next week, would strengthen people's rights to use force to defend themselves against intruders in their homes.

Mr Clarke said: "We will ensure that if you do react instinctively to repel an intruder you will not be punished for it, as long as you used reasonable force."

Under the Bill's proposals, the question of whether a person could have fled would simply be one of the factors to be taken into account when considering whether reasonable force was used, in self-defence, to protect others, to prevent a crime or to protect property, rather than imposing any duty to retreat on potential victims. The Bill will also seek to make squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence.

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