Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brits Get The Right Of Self Defense

Until now, there was only a common law right to self defense in Britian that was at best unclear and which often functioned to make a criminal of a law abiding citizen doing nothing more than acting to protect their person and property. That is true no longer. Britain passed a law in September (I completely missed it) that goes into effect today outlining what appears to be a fairly robust right to self defense. This is superb news for Britain and it is a law I never expected a Labour Parliament to pass. I stand corrected. In a post written within the past 24 hours, Britain's Devil's Advocates, I took the socialists to task for the harm that they were doing to religion and law and order. My comments as to the former stand. My comments as to the latter, many of which were precisely on the British lack of a clear right to self defense, obviously are no longer accurate. It is not often that I am happy to be proven wrong and actually savor the taste of finely cooked crow.

This from the Telegraph:

Home owners and “have-a go-heroes” have for the first time been given the legal right to defend themselves against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution.

They will be able to use force against criminals who break into their homes or attack them in the street without worrying that "heat of the moment” misjudgements could see them brought before the courts.

Under new laws police and prosecutors will have to assess a person’s actions based on the person’s situation "as they saw it at the time” even if in hindsight it could be seen as unreasonable.

For example, homeowners would be able stab or shoot a burglar if confronted or tackle them and use force to detain them until police arrive. Muggers could be legally punched and beaten in the street or have their own weapons used against them.

However, attacking a fleeing criminal with a weapon is not permitted nor is lying in wait to ambush them.

The new laws follow a growing public campaign for people to be given the right to defend themselves and their own homes in the wake of a number of high profile cases.

In 2000, Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer, was sent to prison for manslaughter for shooting an intruder in his home.

Earlier this year, Tony Singh, a shopkeeper, found himself facing a murder charge after he defended himself against an armed robber who tried to steal his takings. During the struggle the robber received a single fatal stab wound to the heart with his own knife.

The Crown Prosecution Service eventually decided Mr Singh should not be charged.

Until now people have had to prove in court that they acted in self defence but the changes mean police and the Crown Prosecution Service will decide on cases before this stage.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said that people would be protected legally if they defend themselves "instinctively”; they fear for their own safety or that of others; and the level of force used is not excessive or disproportionate.

He added the changes in law were designed to ensure the criminal justice system was weighted in favour of the victim.

Mr Straw – and other Labour ministers – have previously repeatedly blocked attempts by opposition MPs to give greater protection to householders.

. . . The new self defence law, which came into force yesterday, is contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and was announced by Mr Straw last September.

He is understood to have decided new laws were necessary after he was involved in four "have-a go’’ incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home.

. . . Mr Straw said: "The justice system must not only work on the side of people who do the right thing as good citizens, but also be seen to work on their side.

"The Government strongly supports the right of law abiding people to defend themselves, their families and their property with reasonable force. This law will help to make sure that that right is upheld and that the criminal justice system is firmly weighted in favour of the victim.

"Dealing with crime is not just the responsibility of the police, courts and prisons; it’s the responsibility of all of us. Communities with the lowest crime and the greatest safety are the ones with the most active citizens with a greater sense of shared values, inspired by a sense of belonging and duty to others, who are empowered by the state and are also supported by it – in other words, making a reality of justice.

"These changes in the law will make clear – victims of crime, and those who intervene to prevent crime, should be treated with respect by the justice system. We do not want to encourage vigilantism, but there can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal.". . .

Read the entire article. You have to love how the law came about - the Home Office Secretary involved in chasing down criminals personally. One, my hat is off to him for his personal bravery. Two, the fact that his acts led to his support for a change in the law suppports a critical hypothesis that I formed long ago, that the elitist left has only a tenuous hold on reality and that their utopian attitudes change only through the rare personal exposure to reality. Now if Britain would only send the Lord Chief Justice and the Archbishop of Canterbury over to live in Saudi Arabia for a few months and get a chance to gain a greater understanding of Sharia law . . .

(H/T Bookworm Room)


vinny said...

not enough. There are clear cases of self defence in which victims are being sent to jail for using the burglar's own weapons against them. The British citizens are not protected by their government and essentially the law of that land will be anarchy.

MK said...

While this is a step in the right direction, it worries me that the British people and the elites ruling them only passed this law when they were pushed and had to learn from their own mistakes. It amazes me that what is common sense takes so bloody long to sink in through thick skulls.

Also whilst you are allowed to stab an assailant with his own knife, once again these folks have to learn from their own mistakes. Last year sometime, the current mayor of London encouraged people to get involved and fight back when they see crime. So people did and ended up dead. After he won the election he changed his tune, now he tells people to walk away and run away.

Which is exactly what one old fellow and his wife tried, the old timer ended up dead. Now they're saying it's ok to stab a fellow with his own knife. I wouldn't be surprised if people try to do that and end up dead. If a guy with a knife knows what he's doing, you don't stand a chance, and most people don't know how to tell if the guy actually knows what he's doing.

When the Brits go the whole way and allow their citizens the right to bear arms, then i'll applaud them. That i believe will happen when hell freezes over.

Joanne said...

You don't need the right to bear arms to possess arms by the way. Criminals could care less about having the right to possess arms.

Well, this should be good news, but as cynical as I have grown, I can't help but think that the criminal-minded will devise some way themselves to use this law, somehow, to their own benefit.