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Burglary in the UK

Clive Coleman writes in Times Online - Newspaper Edition about a real burglary and what happens in the UK.

I ALMOST tackled a burglar this week. Well, he wasn’t actually burgling my house, he was burgling my holidaying neighbour’s house four doors down. ...It started with a call, late at night from my neighbour’s alarm company, asking me to meet the police outside his house. After five minutes .. I recovered his front-door keys, and proceeded bravely down the road, with my significantly taller wife beside me. Outside we found no police, so decided to go in. I’d just put the key in the lock when I saw a flashlight upstairs and a figure run into a bedroom....We decided to rush back home, dial 999, tell the police that there was an intruder in the house, “right there, right now”. We returned to the street, alerted several neighbours, and waited a safe distance from the house. And we waited. We waited for about half an hour, breaking our vigil only to call the police once again. After around 40 minutes, we heard the sound of breaking glass from the house and saw a hooded figure emerge with what looked like a computer box in a bag.
All five of us looked around anxiously for the police car...
Ten minutes or so later the police arrived. No real explanation for the delay, but once I’d let them in it triggered six police man-hours of checking the premises, calling out two SOCOs (scene of crimes officers) who dusted for prints around the broken rear window, and actually found plenty. Unfortunately they were all glove prints; damn clever burglar — no wonder he wanted the computer.

It was all rather depressing. If the police can’t catch a burglar who stays in a house for 40 minutes under observation, it’s pretty bad. If five middle-class neighbours can’t confront a burglar, that’s pretty weedy too. Seven years ago I was caught up in a bank robbery... on that occasion, I did intervene. I don’t know why, but I did. This time and a spate of knife crimes later, I didn’t, and I feel bad. If I and my neighbours are any kind of barometer, a corrosive fear of crime is certainly rising.

Well that is London for you - pathetic all round. Try that in Texas.


Got to say that with the current police mentality you probably did the right thing. Confronting the intruder could well have resulted in criminal proceedings against yourself.

I was recently assaulted in the street at night by a gang of around 20 youths. There were 4 of us. After arresting myself and a friend (off whom they had to drag 4 lads who were kickin him as he lay on the ground) they let the rest go.

Shortly afterwards the same lads started another fight further up the road. Still none of them were taken in.

In the meantime they had let my friend go. Presumably because he had had his front tooth kicked out and was bleeding heavily. I don't imagine they wanted to sit in the hospital with him.

I was taken to the police station. Treated with sarcasm. Left in a cell for several hours and cautioned in the morning.

I wish now I had not accepted the caution and gone for my day in court. On the other hand I'm probably lucky one of my assailants didn't try and sue me. I'm sure they probably claimed from the criminal injuries board.

That's what you get for sticking up for yourself these days!

In Texas we have another advantage.
If my neighbor ask me to watch his place while he is gone,and I see someone breaking in I can shoot from my place with out haveing to go over and confront the intruder.If someone crosses my fence line at night I can use deadly force to stop them.The fence just has to a fence ment to hold livestock.One may use deadly force to prevent or stop the commission of a felony after dark.
In short,Texas is not a good place to be if you are a criminal.Do we still have crime?Yes,but at least you can defend yourself and your property without going to jail.

I owned a brownstone in NYC during the dark and dreadful pre-Guliani years. The police always claimed they were stretched thin, beset with more serious crime than housebreaking, attempted rape all of which I observed. We formed a block association and demanded better policing but it wasn't until they held the police's toes to the fire with computerized statistics and targets to meet that crime fell dramatically. To me the law that you cannot defend yourself or your neighbor is one that public outcry has got to get changed.It is the root of chummy thumbing his nose at the world and incidentally I know police who said they feared confronting a man with a knife more than a one with a gun so factor that in. I now feel safer in NYC than I do in London.

Don't misrepresent the right to self-defence in Britain. The law is quite clear, as I have argued here: http://bartlettsbizarrebazaar.blogspot.com/2004/12/unreasonable-and-disproportionate-tory.html, and here: http://bartlettsbizarrebazaar.blogspot.com/2004/12/burglary-and-self-defence-addendum.html.

There is not a single person in jail in Britain who should not be in jail under the implementation of Tory proposals. Even the Tories admit this when pressed. That a few who should be in jail would not is key.

Misrepresenting the law of self-defence places people in unreasonable fear and undermines what would be a prefectly workable and reasonable law. The only drawback is perception. Why people apparently concerned about the right of self-defence would tell lies about the actual state of the laws is beyond me.

Tell you what, Andrew: when next I come to the UK, am robbed in the street at knifepoint, and I break the little fucker's nose to protect myself, my family and my property, will you come and quote your interpretation to the bobbies?

And will I be freed, in consequence?

Just asking...


Liberal crap. The law allows 'reasonable' force, yes? Well at 3am, confronted by a hooded intruder and my family to defend ANY action to defend my family is reasonable. One thing people like you don't understand is that neither you, the police, nor even Parliament has the right to determine the limits to which I am allowed to go in order to defend what is mine. The only relevent view of what is 'reasonable' at 3am is mine alone and 'reasonable' is anything which safeguards me and mine. If it results in injury or death to an intruder that is of no consequence whatsoever.

If I'm defending my property and any people present I would not expect to be arrested, charged, and prosecuted for Assault (or worse) for kicking the shit out of a scrote who shouldn't be there.

If said scrote invades my property he has, in my view, stepped outside of the norms of civilised behaviour and as a direct consequence removed himself from the protection of the law.

He is showing a complete disregard for my human rights, so he can expect me to ignore his.

Now where's my bat...

The fella writing in the Times obviously hasn't cottoned on to the simple fact that the police are not on his side and they are not in the business of confronting criminals. They exist solely to clean up, issue a crime number and investigate if the victim has been mean to the criminal. Some believe the police are on the side of the innocent, some believe they are neutral. The plain fact is that senior police regard themselves now as social workers. They are of the liberal left and hate the decent,law abiding majority.

If they'd dialled 999 and said the homeowner's car tax was out of date or worse still, he'd made a racist remark, the place would have been surrounded by plod cars and helicopters within minutes....
For instant service these days, just tell the operator you have a gun and are going over there to do a "Tony Martin" That'll get their attention quick enough!

Does anyone know if this new guidance on self defence that the Home Office was going to release has appeared yet? Not that I expect much of it but it should be good for an (ironic) laugh.

Will they spell out that your best course of action is to lie down and hope they don't kill you?

Brilliant. Andrew lays out the actual UK self-defence law, and everyone continues to rant about how it doesn't exist. Not that anyone here is a deluded swivel-eyed loon, or anything.

Kim's comment in particular is simply bizarre: err, yes, you will be freed in the situation you describe. Not because Andrew says so, but because the law says so.

The question, john b, is whether the law is actually followed, not whether it exists. :) Can you show me some examples of how the law has been upheld, or is it simply ignored?

Show me any case of someone being convicted of murder or manslaughter while defending themselves from robbery or burglary in the UK which *doesn't* satisfy the conditions mentioned above (ie blasting someone in the back with an illegal shotgun while they're running away is out of order, but more or less anything short of that goes), and we'll talk.

While researching this topic a couple of months ago, I couldn't find any.

I suppose there isn't anything less welcome than a Yank indulging in a little "shotgunfreude" as the rates for some categories of crime in the U.K., Canada and elsewhere begin to exceede those in the States, unless it's someone here vaguely recalling an old Monty Python sketch in which somebody says something like, "I wish to report a burglary!"

Well, so much for the idea that strict gun control makes society safer...

Say what you like about U.S. "gun culture" but American burglars know very well not to invade an occupied home -- burglars are statistically as likely to be shot as go to jail. When burglaries occur in the U.S., only 13% of the time they happen when the owners are at home.

Conversely, and I hardly need to tell any of you this, but I'll state it anyway for the non-Britons: 57% of burglaries in the U.K. occur while the occupants are at home.

Perception? Simply put, British burglars run the odds and know they're probably going to get away with it. And no risk of physical danger to themselves, either, since the British populace have been disarmed and thoroughly cowed.

Really do feel sorry for you all -- but the gun laws that have so emboldened British criminals were passed by MPs you elected. Isn't it hateful having to lie in the bed one has made?

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