Battering burglars law | OOPS! I shot my landlord…
People in England and Wales who over-react when confronted by burglars in their homes will be given more legal protection, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is to announce today, at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
It’s 13 years on since Tony Martin, a farmer from Norfolk, killed one burglar and wounded another who had both entered his home. He was convicted of murder, which was replaced with manslaughter on appeal.
The call for action gathered momentum following the murder of financier John Monckton, who died from stab wounds in his Chelsea home in 2004. As well as the jailing of Buckinghamshire businessman Munir Hussain in 2008, who was jailed for 30 months after chasing and attacking one of three intruders with a cricket bat who had tied up his family. The intruder, Walid Saleem, received a lesser sentence than Hussain, who was convicted of grievous bodily harm. This was later reduced on appeal.
The change will mean that people who face intruders and have reason to fear for their safety will not be guilty of an offence if they use force that, in the cold light of day, seems disproportionate.
Currently, householders are entitled to use only ‘reasonable’ force.
Q&A: What is ‘reasonable force’? via bbc.co.uk.
The Justice Secretary, who is the first appointed non-lawyer Lord Chancellor, says it will “dispel doubts once and for all” over the right to fight against intruders and PM David Cameron says more protection for people who confront burglars would provide “certainty“.
The move is designed to remove the threat of a burglary victim being arrested – let alone charged – if they use violence to drive the intruder away or stop them from advancing through their home.
But there is considerable doubt about exactly what force should be permitted.
Today in a television interview David Cameron suggested a home-owner could stab a burglar, provided they were conscious.
The PM told ITV’s Daybreak: ‘I think there has been uncertainty about what proportionate means so we are saying you can do anything as long as it is not grossly disproportionate.
You couldn’t, for instance, stab a burglar if they were unconscious. But really we should be putting the law firmly on the side of the home-owner, the householder, the family and saying, when that burglar crosses that threshold, invades your home, threatens your family, they give up their rights.
‘I’m more interested in the rights of the people who want to defend their homes and their properties.’
Opponents of such changes argue they will encourage vigilantism and could force more burglars to arm themselves.
And between 1990 and 2005 there were only 11 prosecutions for people tackling intruders in any premises, including seven involving homes.
At Landlord Referencing Services we would like to raise the question:
How exactly would this affect Landlords?
For example: A Landlord needs to access a tenanted property due to an emergency. They walk into the flat and the tenant shoots or stabs the landlord and then declares that they were just protecting themselves and their family from an ‘intruder’…?
It is definitely a stark warning to every landlord and letting agent in the country that when they need to access a tenanted property that they make sure they have a signed acknowledgement from that tenant first; as a receipt of proof that the tenant is aware of the visit.
But what happens if the tenant does not receive the notice to inspect the property?
And what happens if it is an emergency, and is in the interest and safety of the other tenants in the building to access the tenanted property?
The same goes for squatters too. Will a landlord be permitted to use ‘lethal force’ on squatters, as they are after all ‘intruders’…?
Are you in favour of this proposed new law or against it?
Please let us know your views!