The government is right to want to give home owners the peace of mind to know that they can defend their homes and their property without fear of being treated like a criminal. We have all heard stories about the victims of burglary finding themselves prosecuted and the time has come to send out a clear message: that criminal activity will not be tolerated and that criminals should expect to meet resistance. Burglary should be regarded as an offence against people, not against property, because a householder’s sense of security and well-being is destroyed by burglary. Which is why we need to support the secretary of state’s proposals that would clearly put the law on the side of the home owner. There should be no confusion about who is the victim and who is the offender.
Robert Buckland is a barrister, MP for South Swindon and is a member of the Justice Select Committee.
Chris Grayling continues his campaign for householders to have the right to use disproportionate force against intruders. Longer term he might be aiming for the right to jump on the dead body of your burglar. His proposals are a noisy nothing. He should know that the current law allows the use of reasonable force. He should know that action taken instinctively and honestly is strong evidence that it was reasonable. He should know that in practice his proposals will make no difference to decisions to prosecute or jury verdicts. The current law doesn't ask for impossible restraint. It doesn’t impose a test of “cold light of day” reasonableness. Prosecutors and courts always look are the reality of the circumstances – the dangers the householder faced and the fears he felt.
Michael Wolkind QC is a criminal trial and appeals barrister at 2 Bedford Row.