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More protection for people who defend homes against burglars

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 09, 2012

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling

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Householders who defend their homes when confronted by burglars are to 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.

It 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.

In his first Tory Party conference speech as Justice Secretary, Mr Grayling will also reinforce his tough-justice approach by saying all community sentences should have a punitive element.

“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,” Mr Grayling will say.

“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.”

The Justice Secretary plans to change the law to ensure that any frightened householder who is confronted by a burglar and uses force that is reasonable in the circumstances but in the cold light of day seems disproportionate will not be guilty of an offence.

Force which is “grossly disproportionate” will still be against the law, but this is a higher bar than the current law which says force must always be proportionate.

But primary legislation will be needed before the changes can come into force and no specific parliamentary time for this has yet been set.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said last month that burglary was an offence against the person, should always be treated seriously, and stressed that householders have the right to use force “to get rid of the burglar”.

Lord Judge admitted that “occasionally it looks as if the householder is the criminal”, but said: “Well, the householder is not in a position to exercise calm, cool, judgment.

“You’re not calmly detached, you’re probably very cross and you’re probably very frightened, a mixture of both.”

Community sentences will also be toughened up to ensure that every one of the orders handed out to 220,000 offenders each year will include a “proper punishment”, Mr Grayling will tell the conference in Birmingham.

Overhauling his predecessor Ken Clarke’s plans for a rehabilitation revolution, Mr Grayling said: “Yes, we should be looking to rehabilitate.

“But if someone has committed an offence, they need to receive a proper punishment. That’s part of how we can tackle re-offending and make these sentences effective.”

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