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'Batter a burglar' charter welcomed in Gloucestershire

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 10, 2012

Protection against burglars

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HOUSEHOLDERS who react with force when confronted by a burglar in their own home are to be given more legal protection.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling outlined plans to toughen up burglary laws at the Conservative Party conference yesterday. They will see the current 'proportionate' test which is currently applied to acts of force extended.

Once implemented it will mean residents will be protected legally should they use force 'in the heat of the moment' against an intruder which in the 'cold light of day' might seem excessive – as long as the force used is not "grossly disproportionate".

Don Kempster, chairman of the Cheltenham Neighbourhood Watch Association, has welcomed the news.

He said: "Yes, if as a result of it the law is on their side, I am all for that. I am pleased that he is extending the law so that people do not have to think 'did I break the law when I hit that burglar when he came into to my home?'

"I think the extension of the law is a good thing and it is nice to hear that we will have the law to support us with whatever action we take, as long as that action is reasonable of course."

Mr Kempster added that the association's 'chief aim' was to ensure homes were as secure as possible to make it "as difficult as possible" for burglars to break in in the first place.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Grayling said: "None of us would really know how we would react if someone broke into our house. Householders acting instinctively and in self-defence are victims, not criminals."

Inspector Alistair Barby from Gloucestershire police used to lead on burglary investigations in Cheltenham and worked with the Echo on the Beat the Burglar campaign, to reduce the number of burglaries in the town.

He said he welcomed "anything that allowed people to feel more secure in their homes" but reserved overall judgement until the plans were made concrete.

A Gloucestershire police spokesman added: "The current position is that existing law enshrines the right of any citizen to defend themselves, others and their belongings with reasonable force.

"Joint guidance from ACPO and the Crown Prosecution Service contains advice to householders and the use of force against intruders. Anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime."

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  • jayne80  |  November 01 2012, 1:08PM

    if someone broke into my house id ask where things are lol. I would definately batter a burglar especially to protect my children. but would b petrified too....

  • jefro1  |  October 16 2012, 11:48PM

    for got to mention,and i wont be making him a cup of tea first.

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  • jefro1  |  October 16 2012, 11:43PM

    an english mans house is his castle,if a burgular cant take the consequences of what may or will happen to him then he should give up the job.if a burgular comes in from the window i think he should leave through the window too.

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  • Asodeska  |  October 11 2012, 6:12PM

    Tony, I can see you like a challenge! Here in America, we do not have a big problem, at least not in the West. You see, we can just shoot them if they are inside, on our property. Solves the problem Also cuts down on the burglar population.

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  • gallopingbear  |  October 11 2012, 1:36PM

    Of course, have proper security and do all you can to prevent intruders, but in the event that you wake up and are confronted by an armed, balaclava-clad burglar(NOT farmer-note to county councillors), we all want to know that if we get out a big bat and wallop him, WE won't be the ones in prison. If a couple of burglars die, so be it. Hazard of the job!

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  • cdotd  |  October 11 2012, 1:06PM

    With the austerity measures that have been put in place thus far (not to mention the remaining 80% left to go) any slack in public services were supposed to be picked up by individuals/groups as part of Cameron And Pickles Big Society (TM). So why aren't we out there patrolling the streets in groups? Would communities be willing to do this (didn't a group in St Pauls do this recently?)? Who wants to wander along their road at 3am on the look out for trouble? You could argue the potential reduction in crime would lead to an increase in house prices in the area - benefiting those who live there. There's no easy solution or one that doesn't require a large cash injection.

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  • TIMONLINE2010  |  October 11 2012, 12:48PM

    Yes of course we should but, short of multiplying the number of police officers on the ground x100 they are going to continue to be ineffective. Of course, crime prevention should be the aim but do you have any ideas of how to implement it?

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  • cdotd  |  October 11 2012, 12:35PM

    @timonline Then shouldn't we be looking at improving policing and implementing measures that deter burglary rather than accepting it will happen and allowing people to take immediate justice themselves when it does? I would rather we reduced the number of burglaries than see them stay the same but with more people (either burglars or homeowners) being injured.

  • TIMONLINE2010  |  October 11 2012, 12:25PM

    I take your point but be realistic, it's extremely unlikely that the police are going to be in a position to help when someone burgles your home - therefore your only defence is to defend yourself. It really depends what's at stake and with what the burglar is armed with but I'd rather mame a burglar than be mamed myself!

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  • gallopingbear  |  October 11 2012, 12:23PM

    Would this change also be grounds for appeal for the guy in Up Hatherley in prison for making the burglar booby traps? CDOT, are you a part time burglar? :D I think what we can take from this article, is that the matter of people prosecuted for defending themselves in their own property is being looked at.

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