Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Liberal Democrats must care about burglars' lives

Ok, here we go, another hippy leftie soft on crime blog post from a bleeding heart liberal.

Actually, I'll cheerfully own up to everything except the soft on crime bit. No, I don't think that householders should offer a full fry up and a nice up of tea to the thug who's plundering their worldly possessions, but nor do I have any time for Ken Clarke's latest wheeze - to "clarify"  the amount of force a householder can use on a burglar. 

Being the victim of a burglary is horrible. Not only has somebody helped themselves to your hard earned property, or stuff with real sentimental value, but often the feeling that your space has been violated is really traumatic to deal with. And that's if they haven't done unspeakable things. My friends had a caravan which was broken into and let's just say the Police found a condom.

So it's awful even if you're not there. The trauma of feeling that your life is in danger must be horrendous.

I think it would be wrong, though, to effectively remove your personal accountability for your actions in that situation. If we believe that human life is valuable, and I hope that we all do, then we can't just decide that people have the right to kill trespassers at will.  Isn't this disproportionate?

We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he's in the house and you have a perfect defence when you do so”
 If you hit someone with a poker, you could kill them. One blow in the wrong place could be enough. During the course of a burglary, depending on the threat to your life, that might be a justifiable response. But if that does happen, and someone loses their life or is maimed permanently, isn't it best that the criminal justice system takes a look at what went on? I don't think that you should just take away all personal responsibility from householders, even if they are victims of crime.Let's look at this rationally. If the law is "clarifed" to suggest that householders can do what they heck they like to a trespasser, if you were a burglar, would you not go prepared for that eventuality? An opportunist break in becomes a much more seriously planned affair with maybe a knife, or a gun brought along for security. Anything that increases the number of guns and knives on the street is going to lead to more dead people. Individuals should have the right to protect their homes and their families, but the current law gives them the 
right  to do that in a proportionate manner.

The current law has safeguards for all of us. There is a good reason we have a police force and don't allow order to be kept by whichever gang is supreme at the moment. It's why we have courts to mete out appropriate sanctions and not victims who are bound to be subjective. If anyone harmed a hair on the head of anyone I love, you can bet your life I'd want them to be dealt with extremely severely - maybe more so than was actually fair. There are good reasons why that decision should be made by an independent body. I expect our MPs to make it perfectly clear to Ken Clarke that they will not support any such changes.  This is where we as liberals have to make a difference.


Viridis Lumen said...

Agree entirely: just as gun ownership and routine carrying of arms by police in the USA has cranked up violent assault by criminals making sure they are "tooled up" for any eventuality, anything like this clarification risks the same.

The whole issue is a complete a red herring. The fact is that, contrary to the DM myths which Clarke has reinforced by giving them the time of day by a senior Minister, very, very few householders are ever prosecuted for "having a go" at a burglar. There were only eleven instances of prosecutions for this between 1990 and 2005 (no reason to suppose the numbers have changed significantly since).And those have been cases such as the man who lay in wait with a gun to shoot a young boy dead as he ran away; and the family who pursued a burglar for almost half a mile through back gardens before beating him to death.

This is naked populism. Has Ken been having a bad time lately, by any chance? I remain unconvinced about the Lib dems claims to be reasserting themselves in the Coalition, but on this issue I'd be happy to be proven wrong....

Anonymous said...

"The current law has safeguards for all of us."

Unfortunately, in respect of offences such as burglary, the chances of the law actually being enforced, i.e. police catching the scrotes and successful prosecution and punishment following, don't seem all that great. So the concept of the law having safeguards doesn't seem very relevant. It should be no surprise when householders take matters into their own hands.

oneexwidow said...

Hear hear... I've had a lot of time for Clarke in his latest incarnation but I thought his cooments on this were off the scale.

Should someone stab a burgler it should be for the courts, judge and jury to decide if that was an appropriate response. I cannot see how it is possible to pre-judge every - or any - given set of circumstances.


Related Posts with Thumbnails