10 October 2012, 21:06

UK: Cameron backs ‘disproportionate’ force initiative

UK: Cameron backs ‘disproportionate’ force initiative

The British householders may be allowed to deploy ‘disproportionate’ force defending homes and families, the country’s Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said. Made at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, the announcement made headlines at once.

On the one hand, the initiative is obviously populist. On the other hand, it is part of the Tories` program on legislation and cannot be turned down. It was backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said: “When that burglar crosses your threshold, invades your home, threatens your family, they give up their rights”. Mr. Cameron stressed the need to defend the rights of homeowners rather than burglars. “We’re saying ‘you can do anything as long as it’s not grossly disproportionate,” he said. “You couldn’t, for instance, stab a burglar if they were already unconscious…” 

Russian expert in the European law Paul Kalinichenko thinks that making amendments to the British Criminal Justice Act won`t be an easy task to do. “For Britain this issue is especially complicated since it relies on the common law, which means that the grounds for deciding cases are found in precedents provided by past decisions. So, this topic could become a matter of discussion on a national level.” 

“I`ve been burgled a couple of times when I lived in London, in North Kensington”, Cameron told Sky News. “We should be putting the law firmly on the side of the homeowner and his family.” 

Like in Russia, the issue has been widely discussed in Great Britain. The current law already allows people to use “reasonable force” to defend themselves (either at home or on the street), to protect others, to prevent crime or to protect property. Actually, the same system is applied in most European countries. 

Britain’s leading independent campaigning organization which works to protect civil libertiesand promote human rights in England and Wales, Liberty,condemned the initiative by saying that changes in the legislation will lead to ‘an outbreak of vigilante executions’. 

Expert at the Russian Higher School of Economics, Gennady Esakov: “There is nothing risky about these amendments. The issue has remained unclear in Britain for quite a long time, and now the Conservative Party wants to finally clear things out. ‘Reasonable’, ‘sufficient’ are not very precise words when it comes to the use of force in self-defence.” 

Mr. Cameron was even accused of trying to impose the U.S.-style practice in Britain, allowing people to defend their homes anyway they like, even by fatally injuring an attacker. If the amendments are approved, the English proverb ‘My home is my castle’ will regain its original meaning. English lawyers, however, say that the British common law already has enough articles to refer to when dealing with people who cause serious injuries to burglars or attackers. Although such cases have taken place already.

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