With tool thefts on the rise, more and more people across the country are taking the law into their own hands to defend themselves and their property. However, this decision could land them in quite a bit of trouble. They could even end up facing more jail time than the intruder!
Therefore, the Crown Prosecution Service has put together a summary of how far you can go when defending yourself and your property. Of course, they do urge though that you should alert the police and let them handle the situation. However, if you feel that your involvement is necessary, they have released advice to ensure that you are acting in a reasonable and defensive manner.
The first piece of advice is that you don’t have to be attacked before using defensive force. If you fear for yourself and others, then you can use defensive force to protect yourself and your property. However, ‘reasonable’ force is subjective to each situation. The more extreme the circumstances though, the more force you can legally use to defend yourself.
If you do use what is classed as a ‘reasonable’ amount of force though, then the law can protect you. This is because legally, anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves, others or to prevent a crime. The Crown Prosecution Service describes that doing what you feel is necessary, is the best form of evidence that you acted lawfully. Even if you use a weapon. If the situation is deemed serious enough, then this can be seen as ‘reasonable’ force too.
The Crown Prosecution Service also stated: “if you have acted in reasonable self-defence, as described above, and the intruder dies you will still have acted lawfully.”
The law does not however protect you if your actions are deemed as over the top. Or, if they are seen as a form of revenge. For example, this could be continuing to beat the intruder even though they cannot get away. This is classed as either ‘disproportionate’ or ‘grossly disproportionate’ force and is not legal.
The police will however cover all of the facts when conducting an investigation. They will also take into consideration that the intruder was the one that actually caused the incident to take place.
If the intruder runs off though, and is no longer trespassing upon your property, you do not have as many legal rights regarding the amount of force you can use. However, you can still use ‘reasonable’ force to recover any stolen property and/or to make a citizen’s arrest. The Crown Prosecution Service recommends that in this instance, a simple rugby tackle or blow to the head would be classed as ‘reasonable’ force.
Ultimately though, they encourage people to consider their own safety first and whether the police have been called.
So what do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below.