If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 10 October 2011

A referendum we actually want

Courtesy of the Moose, here's a poll from the Lancashire Telegraph:

You can vote here (link no longer active).

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am probably the least violent person on the planet. I rarely lose my temper, and when I do my anger is far more likely to be directed against myself than anyone else. But I cannot see why people should not be able to defend their own property in any way they see fit. Once you have broken into my house, you have crossed a line. You have already broken a law, and if you do that, you lose the right to claim the law in your favour when things go wrong for you. You either obey the law, or you don't. Cross over into my territory uninvited, and the laws are mine.

I think the current laws on defence of property have it about right, actually. You are allowed to use 'reasonable force' to defend yourself and your property. If you wake up to find an intruder in your bedroom, the law accepts that you will be very frightened and may not act with the degree of proportion you may exercise in the cold light of day. The law would not allow you to blast a shotgun at someone taking a pee inside your garden gate at closing time, and rightly too. But if you did the same to someone who was on your upstairs landing and heading towards your children's bedroom, the law would look much more leniently on your actions. What I think goes wrong is in the way these laws are interpreted by the Police and the Courts. Often, we have seen law-abiding householders arrested and put through the mill simply for defending what is their own. It's not right, but that's a matter of the interpretation of the law, not the law itself. In every case where a householder was convicted that I have read about, there has been a significant element of revenge and punishment, or lack of due care, in the retribution exacted by the householder. Tony Martin, for example, shot a young man in the dark without knowing who he was or why he was there. Munir Hussain followed the intruder down the street and with the help of a number of relatives subjected him to a ferocious attack which left him brain-damaged. You might feel very sympathetic to those convicted, and say the intruders got what was coming to them, but both cases are difficult and complex. It is always foolish to make cast-iron judgements from cases like these. These are, if you like, on the edge of what is reasonable and what is not, and no-one will ever agree on the rights and wrongs. But, put simply, if you are in fear of your life or your property, the law allows you to take reasonable steps (and even, in extreme cases, unreasonable ones) to defend yourself and your stuff.

The best advice I have had on the subject came from a serving Police officer:
Always sleep with something big and useful under the bed. Don't ever keep a baseball bat for things like this. Unless you are a baseball star, it will be easy for a slimy lawyer to argue premeditation. Non-players only keep baseball bats for one thing. Make it a torch (a "big, fuck-off 5-cell Maglite" was his choice of words). Hold it by the bulb end in your cupped hand, and have the length resting on your shoulder with a finger on the button. When you see the intruder, snap the light on, blind him, and then bring the blunt end down on his head with all your force. No court in the land would convict you for taking a torch to investigate a strange noise in the night.
I have the 5-cell Maglite, and I would use it exactly as recommended. I am not a violent person, but if you do violence to me or the people or things I care about, I will use maximum force against you. As I am even-tempered and not used to being angry, I will probably not stop until you were no longer moving and no further threat to me. I would regret it afterwards but, as the saying goes, I would rather be judged by twelve than carried out by six.

This right of attack on intruders can't be absolute. I have heard of cases from the US where someone has knocked on the door of a house to ask to use the phone after a car breakdown and been shot on sight. That's not right. But neither is rolling over and according 'rights' to people who by their deliberate actions have demonstrated that they don't care a scrap for yours.

The right to live without harm from others, and the right to keep the things you have worked hard for, are probably the most basic rights we have. We need to make this completely clear to those who govern, who enforce and who judge.

Thanks, Bucko.


  1. Thanks Richard. I agree wholeheartedly.

    Not only will the policy give a great deal of satisfaction to the 'victims'; it'll also be a great crime-reduction / prevention policy if it scares off just one scrote from attempting a burglary because he might get a painful comeuppance.

  2. I was told by a security guy once that another good defensive tool is a rolled up magazine. 'Top Gear' is about the right size. Rolled up tightly and poked with force into the intruders throat or eye or a good wack over the head is like getting hit with a steel baton. It's as strong as steel and will never break. No matter how long you hit the intruder.

  3. Ta for the link, not only was I able to bolster the 93% Yes vote but I am informed of a 100% chance of rain in Accrington today.

    "the law would look much more leniently on your actions" The emphasis should be the other way round, it should be for the Police/CPS to show that your reactions were criminal. At present, as I understand it, the Police are required to arrest home defenders to be able to conclide that there is no case to answer and thus bring things to a speedy conclusion.

    @Dons "rolled up magazine" technique was well demonstrated in one of the Bourne Troligy movies.

  4. It interests me to see that so far 7% of the voters voted NO...... are they planning to break in to good honest peoples homes? I guess those sort of people may also like to be given the key, to aid entry.

    If my home is entered, I will defend it and my family, to the best of my ability and answer questions later.

  5. Richard (at work)11 October 2011 at 09:58

    ""the law would look much more leniently on your actions" The emphasis should be the other way round"

    Agreed. That was a slightly clumsy way of putting it, and I knew someone would pick me up on it. The word 'lenient' suggests that the law is somehow doing us a favour, when that should not be the case. Perhaps 'look at differently' would be better. If someone is killed or seriously hurt, then the Police should be looking at the evidence to see if a criminal offence has been committed, but that should be done on the assumption of innocence unless evidence suggests otherwise. At the moment, you get the impression that the Police hate anyone doing 'their' job for them, and will seek to criminalise people for - gasp - taking the law into their own hands. Whose law is it anyway?

  6. Richard (at work)11 October 2011 at 10:07

    I would guess that the 7% who don't think we should be able to defend ourselves and our property are the people who think that property is wrong anyway, and we should all share. After all, if you have property, that means you worked for it, and that means you are an elitist, right?

  7. @Richard. From my own experience I know that when the Police are faced with a complaint from an-out-and out crook against an upstanding citizen who has, in their own eyes, upheld the rule of law; their best recourse to justice has been (at the request of the real victim) to arrest him and thus speed up "due process". I know this bescause it happened to me. My only proviso to agreeing to be so arrested is that they did not do the "putting their hands on my head thing" as I got into their car and also that I got a free lift back home.

  8. "At present, as I understand it, the Police are required to arrest home defenders to be able to conclide that there is no case to answer and thus bring things to a speedy conclusion."

    And, 20 years ago, that held no fears for the innocent man. Now, even when released (after months of waiting), your DNA is retained and you can kiss goodbye to any hope of a visa to visit the US or a cleared CRB check. In effect, you get punished indirectly, not directly.

  9. banned - if you trust them to do what they say, fair enough. These days I am not sure I would be so trusting.

    JuliaM - absolutely. But then, in the eyes of the Great and the Good these days, we are all wrongdoers (racist, homophobic, smoking, fat) so that is just a bit of punishment on account for the times you swore, or ate a chip, or questioned global warming and got away with it. We are all guilty; we might as well accept it.

  10. Richard, I am neither over trusting or naive, it was the obvious way to go since they were asking 'permission', I was able to negotiate.

    We did not get as far as DNA swabbing or fingerprints. Just the removal of belt, shoelaces and cash (was I going to spend myself to death?), a few minutes in a holding cell while the Officers put the case to the Duty Sergent who duly concluded that there was 'no case to answer', end of. I expect that the nosey stuff occurs after being charged.

  11. I'm sure you did the right thing. I just feel that, where once we would have implicitly trusted the Police to look after us, these days you might fall foul of one of the many ways to offend and end up regretting being so co-operative.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...