Thursday, September 27, 2007

Have a go: be a hero

Jack Straw will, in his speech today, announce a policy that I can actually get close to agreeing with: an overhaul of the self-defence laws.
The law protecting people who intervene in criminal situations is to be urgently reviewed, Justice Secretary Jack Straw is to announce.

He will say self-defence law works "much better than most people think, but not as well as it could or should".

Mr Straw wants to reassure victims or witnesses in England and Wales that they can use reasonable force to stop and detain offenders.

Well, that's just lovely. And what dictates reasonable force? Isn't that rather the problem? If someone breaks into my house, I might think that punching him to the ground and then clubbing him unconscious with a pool cue is reasonable force: unfortunately, I don't think that the law does, unless the burglar's first done the same to me.

However, if it allows people to hold thugs for arrest, without the little scrotes claiming that "you are infringing my rights an' I'm gunna get you done for it, mister" then that is probably a good thing.
"The justice system must not only work on the side of people who do the right thing as good citizens but also be seen to work on their side."

Quite. And, it turns out, Mr Straw is a bit of a hero himself.
Mr Straw has intervened four times to stop criminals, including three times when he managed to detain the offender.

In 1980 he overheard a burglar breaking into a members club in his Blackburn constituency, chased them down the street and detained them until police arrived.

In the mid 1980s at Oval Tube station in south London he came across an 11-year-old boy who had just been robbed by a man and detained the offender.

At the same tube station in the early 1990s he chased a man who had attacked a woman, but did not catch him.

Then in 1996 he chased a man who had robbed a member of the public and detained the suspect until police arrived.

Methinks that Mr Straw is being too modest! After all, some years ago, he also dragged a young scrote, who was dealing cannabis, to the police station.
The justice secretary will state: "Enforcing the law, securing justice, is not just a matter for 'them' the courts, the prisons, the probation service, police - but for all of us."

Well, yes, that's a lovely idea and I am sure that it would be good to encourage citizens to take action themselves; Boris will no doubt be happy with Straw's initiative.
The Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, judges and other government ministers are expected to be consulted during the review.

Which is interesting, because the police's official line is that members of the public should not get involved at all.

Interesting times...


Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

What happened to "any free Englishman may shoot a burglar after sunset"?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Isn't that sort of putting the law back to where everybody thought it was, before Nulab came along with there seven league jack boots and made it all confusing again?

Mark Wadsworth said...

"their" not "there" sorry

Roger Thornhill said...

Jack Straw, New Labour and their nest of barristers and lawyers are the ones who messed all this up.

I would not hold your breath waiting for "bright line" law to come out of this sort of "review". Repealing acts might be better.

I think it is just a neat pre-emptive parry to fend off Conservative attack. All Labour have to do is say "we have already annouced a review" and so pop DD's balloon.

Labour broke it. Do you trust them to fix it? Properly?

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

HA! Jack Straw is going for the Paddy Ashdown, SAS-man of the people vote. Now he just needs to go an repair a small war-torn country...

Can we send Straw to Burma? Please?

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

More seriously:

I think you've got the angle on this just right Devil, because I really dont think it deserves cynicism. Fact is, this is the first major uttering to come from the Justice ministry now its been hived off from the Fist Of The State Home Office...

Looks promising to be honest, because under Blair and Major (please let's not forget what Michael Howard was like as home secretary) HS was just a mouthpiece for command and control.

knirirr said...

Surely the problem is not the law itself, but the enforcement of that law.
I am sure that members of a libertarian society would agree that force used to defend oneself should be "reasonable", but the dastardly statists are always going to have a very different view as to what is reasonable. The fact that one is not allowed to use a firearm for self defence is a good example. Applications for licences for defensive purposes will be refused, and if one has one's firearm in a situation where it is possible to use it to defend one's home then one will be vulnerable to accusations of not having had it properly secured. Therefore, having lain in wait to ambush and murder poor burglars who didn't really deserve to be shot.

woman on a raft said...

Cllr Fred Brown was put through months of grief by the actions of the police and the CPS, before the magistrates were able to rule he acted in self-defence in March this year.

This report from the Cambridge Evening News is a good one as it names the youth who began the trouble. Luke Rainford of Littleport was able to avoid identification throughout the process and some papers decided not to name the youth even after magistrates decided he could be identified.

Poor Cllr Brown was subject to full public humiliation from the very beginning, or he would have been if everybody in town had not been straight round to offer their support.

Straw's politicial problem is that until people feel confident of the support of the police when they defend themselves, they are not going to step forward to act as witnesses in defence of anyone else.

Ed said...

There should be a general legal assumption that the householder has acted reasonably against any trespasser.

You enter someone's home unlawfully, you take the chance. Simple.

Chuck Unsworth said...

I think this should be extended. The whole principle of citizen's arrest needs revisiting. It's obvious that we all should support the police in their difficult work.

I'd like to see many more PCSOs on the streets, ideally kitted out with batons, cuffs, mace, H & K carbines, those rather elegant baseball caps, black combat trousers and boots. If that proves successful maybe individual members of Neighbourhood Watch groups could be tooled up, too.

We should go further. What's wrong with putting all the police paperwork on the Internet? That way we can do the form-filling - that they spend 80% of their time on - for them. That'll give them much greater opportunity to cruise about in their armed response vehicles looking for civilians to blow away.

Tristan said...

Nowhere close to restoring our right to bear arms though.
Not that they'll ever do that anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Insp Adam Gallop, from Cambridgeshire police, said ... we are duty-bound to investigate all incidents reported to us thoroughly and impartially"

Come on, this has to be a fake. You don't expect anyone to such a silly idea seriously ?

It will make no difference. You may recall "teachers being given the right to restrain children" - which they similarly have. Absolutely no change what soever.

The problem is not the law. It is the interpretation and implementation of the law by Police who appear to not like the public doing a job they are unwilling to do (they have the money, they simply waste it on rubbish). Poor Mr Brown has been publicly named and shamed and dragged through the courts, twas ever thus and until there is some form of real public accountability for Police and the CPS (who will blame each other) it will continue exactly as it is now.

Henry North London said...

mmmm I too have posted about this

Having been in the situation of self defence and knowing full well that it is a very sticky wicket I would be very careful if I were in Jack Straw's position.

Totalitarianism is coming and I don't like it at all, it ties up with fascism and the last ten years have all been about control laws and paperwork and bureaucracy

Our way of life has changed and we weren't supposed to have changed it for anyone, least of all the terrorists or the politicians; it should have been sacrosanct.

assegai mike said...

I think DK has suggested, blogs passim, that perhaps we should elect our Chief Constables, like they do in the USA. I think this is a pretty sound idea.

Anonymous said...

DK I think you're missing a subtle point here, Jack Straw is a Labour minister, that means if anything sensible sounding comes out of his mouth HE'S LYING.

Nice idea but the lefties would never do it, not in their interest...


Sir HM said...

The only mistake Tony Martin made is not killing them both.

Dead men can't tell anyone that you're lying when you give your version of what happened.

The survivor claimed his oppo had yelled 'Get out'. If he'd been dead Martin could have claimed he'd heard 'Get Him'. Who could have argued otherwise?

Anonymous said...

This is what our good friend Jury Nullification is for. One day, everyone will know about it.