Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, this week added his support to the Conservative campaign to change the law to allow householders to tackle criminals who break into their homes. Peter Lilley is calling for the rights of self-defence in the home to be strengthened, in face of public concern about rising levels of violent burglary.
Conservative frontbencher, Patrick Mercer MP, is tabling a new law before Parliament ? the Householder Protection Bill. This will tighten the law on self-defence within homes and commercial premises which are subject to criminal acts from trespassers. It will ensure that people can use the necessary force required to defend themselves, their families and their property. Peter Lilley is adding his support to this proposed new law.
Peter Lilley explained: “People should feel safe in their own homes. But under Tony Blair, rising levels of violent burglary and a ?rights culture? for criminals mean people no longer feel they can protect themselves, their families or their property. If a criminal breaks into your home and attacks you, you should be able to use whatever force is required for self-defence, without the threat of criminal prosecution. I am adding my name to the campaign for the law to be changed. The proposed change will not allow a free for all but it will greatly reduce the uncertainties householders currently face that they may be prosecuted for defending themselves and their families.
“We need to go further to tackle burglary. In this part of Hertfordshire, only 1 out of 4 burglars is ever brought to justice – burglary is seen by criminals as ?risk free?. I want to see:
? An extra 40,000 police officers across England & Wales, of which over 500 would be in Hertfordshire, as pledged by Conservatives.
? 25,000 new hard drug rehabilitation places to give young hard drug-users a clear choice: intensive, residential rehabilitation or face the penal system. Most burglary is driven by the need to fund drug use.
? The rejection of Liberal Democrat plans to let burglars escape jail, abolish mandatory life sentences for serial rapists and weaken the laws on hard drugs.
“Under Tony Blair, crime is out of control. It is time our society had more respect and discipline, and the law backed the honest citizen not the criminal.?
Notes to Editors
Householder protection bill
Conservatives propose to change the law on self-defence for those within homes and commercial premises who are subject to criminal acts from trespassers. The change in the law would be achieved by means of an amendment to S3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967.
New Clause 3(1)(a)
“Where a person uses force, in the prevention of crime or in the defence of persons or property, against another who has entered or is attempting to enter any building unlawfully as a trespasser, he shall not be guilty of any offence in respect of the use of force unless (a) the degree of force used was grossly disproportionate and (b) this was or ought to have been apparent to the person using such force.?
New Clause 3(1)(b)
“No prosecution shall be brought against a person subject to 3(1)(a) without the leave of the Attorney General.?
This change will provide clarification to householders and others as to what is permissible when being confronted by an intruder. It will also add reassurance and protection to them that they will not suffer prosecution for their actions without very good reason and only where force has been used in a grossly disproportionate manner.
The amended law will not allow a ?free for all? in which all restraints are removed from victims of crime, but rebalance the law so that it properly favours victims as against the perpetrators of criminal acts involving entry or attempted entry into buildings.
Rising levels of violent burglary
Total ?aggravated burglary in a dwelling? (violent burglary) has gone up by 18 per cent under the current Government (2,884 record offences in 1998-99, and 3,399 in 2003-04) (Home Office, Crime in England and Wales 2003/04, July 2004, Table 2.04).
Home Office research on burglaries
Recent Government research into the behaviour of burglars has revealed:
? Only 10 per cent of burglars think there is a ?high likelihood? of being caught during a burglary or while in possession of stolen property, and the activity is seen as ?virtually risk-free?.
? Almost two-thirds of burglars returned to a property they had previously burgled.
? Burglars? main motivation for committing their crimes was the need to fund drug use.
Home Office, Decision-making by house burglars: offenders? perspectives, 1 November 2004. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/r249.pdf
Local figures ? on bringing burglars to justice
Crime detection statistics show how many crimes have been ?solved? by the police – where an offence has been committed and recorded, a suspect been identified and there is sufficient evidence to charge the suspect. A low detection rate means cases are not solved and more criminals are escaping justice. Statistics on crime detection rates are broken down by ?basic command unit? areas.
Basic Command Unit – Detection Recorded for Key Offences 2002/03 to 2003/04 ? July 2004 – Excel chart
An Excel chart detailing which local authority wards fall into each Basic Command Unit can be downloaded from: http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/bcuwards.xls
Force Basic Command Unit Burglary dwelling detection rate 02/03 (%) Burglary dwelling detection rate 03/04 (%) Is it getting worse or better? Proportion of burglars escaping justice
Hertfordshire Hertfordshire Eastern 21 27 getting better 3 in 4
Conservatives plans for additional full-time police officers
The table below shows the build-up in additional full-time police officers for each force in England & Wales under Conservatives? proposals.
Police Force Police Strength (Sept 2004) Additional police planned
Hertfordshire 2,117 588