John Cooper, a barrister specialising in human rights and criminal law, has tweeted his scepticism about the Justice Secretary's new law to give greater protection to people who use force against burglars:
Speaking about government plans to give homeowners who use force against burglars get more protection, David Cameron has told ITV1's Daybreak people need to know if they do need to protect their home or their family from a burglar they should be able to do that.
He added that the uncertainty over the law at the moment is "completely wrong" and he believed people would be "reassured" by the plans. He explained the force used must not be "grossly disproportionate".
Homeowners who use force against burglars will get more protection under Government plans, unless they use "grossly disproportionate" violence. Daybreak's Sue Jameson reports:
Home owners who attack burglars will not face arrest or prosecution unless they use “grossly disproportionate” violence, the new Justice Secretary will announce today.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph Mr Grayling said that he wanted to “finally lay the issue to rest once and for all” following a series of high-profile cases where home owners who have confronted criminals have been arrested. He said:
The basic premise of the change is to get the law to a position where if you are in your home, and you are confronted by an intruder… then if, in the heat of the moment you use a level of force that in the cold light of day might seem disproportionate, the law will be on your side.
But if you act in a grossly disproportionate way… I think if the burglar is out cold on the floor and you then stick a knife into him, that, in my judgement would be grossly disproportionate.”
The current law on householders and the criminal law of self defence states;
A householder who confronts and kills an intruder may be liable to a charge of murder or manslaughter. If the intruder is only injured, the householder could face charges such as assault, wounding or even attempted murder. However, the householder has a complete defence (and will therefore be acquitted) if the force he used was reasonable and was exercised either in self defence, defence of another, defence of his property, or in the prevention of crime.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is to change the law 'at the first opportunity' to give stronger legal safeguards to those who use force to protect their family or property.
He will propose;
Someone who is confronted by a burglar and has reason to fear for their safety, or the safety of their family, and in the heat of the moment uses force that is reasonable in the circumstances but in the cold light of day seems disproportionate they will not be guilty of an offence.
A predecessor of mine 400 years ago who said, 'Your home is your castle'.
This is the place where you pull up the drawbridge and the moat makes you safe. Your home is your safe place, so burglary is always serious.
The change in law comes after Britain's most senior judge reinforced the notion that a person's home is their castle, saying furious householders have the right to get rid of burglars in their homes and were not expected to remain calm when confronted by intruders.
Being confronted by an intruder in your own home is terrifying, and the public should be in no doubt that the law is on their side. That is why I am strengthening the current law.
Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self defence are victims of crime and should be treated that way.
We need to dispel doubts in this area once and for all, and I am very pleased to be today delivering on the pledge that we made in Opposition.
Frightened householders who over-react when confronted by burglars will get more protection under Government plans, the new Justice Secretary will say today.
Chris Grayling plans to change the law to ensure even householders who react in a way that may seem disproportionate in the cold light of day will be protected from prosecution.
Vincent Cooke, who was cleared of stabbing a burglar to death, has told Daybreak that he has to live with a life sentence knowing he killed a man.