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?
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 theWe 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”
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.