Three months ago, I was ‘an extremist’. Today, I am merely ‘controversial’. I have not changed my opinion, but what is called “the public mood” has changed, at least in London.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, interviewed in the Daily Telegraph (free subscription needed), has shifted the official middle-ground:
Householders should be able to use whatever force is necessary to defend their homes against criminals, even if it involves killing the intruder, the country’s most senior police officer said yesterday.
Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said those who defended their families and property should only face prosecution over injuries to intruders in “extreme circumstances”, where they could be shown to have used gratuitous violence.
Curiously the blame for the present insane situation where burglars can sue for damages if they are injured whilst invading a home, and where people can be prosecuted for resisting burglars, seems to lie with the common law and judges.
The solution according to Sir John, is a statute:
There should be a presumption in law “that the person using the force to defend themselves is acting within the law, rather than the other way round”.
Even if a struggle led to the death of an intruder, Sir John added, the law would presume that the person in that house had acted lawfully “and let the law change that presumption because of fact in evidence”.
He said: “The message it sends to the would-be attacker is, `Do not think you can come into people’s homes and people will not defend themselves with the right type of force that’s necessary.’ At the moment it seems it’s the other way round.”