Thursday, June 23, 2011

String 'Em Up!

So, is ITV News being sponsored by the Daily Mail these days? I only ask because of the outraged tone adopted by one of the newscaster's on the six thirty bulletin when announcing one of the stories: "a burglar is stabbed, and the householder is arrested!" Outrageous, eh? Someone is fatally stabbed and the police have the audacity to arrest the person who did the stabbing. I mean, if he was the householder, they should just take his word about what happened, shouldn't they? Inevitably, of course, they tied the story in to Cameron's recent talk of giving householders more 'right' to defend their homes against burglars. The trouble is that we already have that right - we're all entitled to use 'reasonable force' to defend ourselves when we are threatened. Now, 'reasonable force' is one of those nebulous concepts whose exact definition is dependent upon circumstances, but it is based upon the concept of proportionality: your response to the threat should be proportionate, so shooting someone who is just calling you rude names, wouldn't fly as self defence as the force used wouldn't be considered 'reasonable'.

Now, in the case featured on the news, none of us currently knows enough details of the incident to be able to form an opinion on whether stabbing the intruder constituted 'reasonable force'. Which is why - outrageous though it might seem to ITV news readers - the police have to detain those involved and thoroughly investigate the incident. The most notorious case in recent years of a householder using the 'reasonable force' defence was Tony Martin, who shot and killed an intruder at his farm house. The jury didn't buy his defence and he went to jail. Much to the annoyance of the Daily Mail. Martin's problem was that not only was the burglar unarmed, but he was leaving the premises when shot and thus not presenting a direct threat to Martin. Consequently, his use of force wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination, 'reasonable'. Ironically, if the 'law and order' brigade who huffed and puffed about the 'injustice' of Martin's case, (and who no doubt will do the same thing over this present case), had their way, we'd still have the death penalty and Martin would have been hanged instead of wangling an early release. If ever there was an argument for capital punishment, that's it.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home