The case of Munir Hussain has shocked the nation this last week and brought fresh attention to the fears of law-abiding householders that the law appears to be on the intruders' side when they confront those intruders. Mr Hussain was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, after he beat one of the intruders with a cricket bat after he had broken into his home and threatened his family.
Melanchton on CentreRight last night argued that the householder had a right to do much more than chase an intruder away:
"Conviction rates for burglary are poor. The chances that the burglar would remain at liberty to terrorise Mr Hussein and his family in revenge for his fight-back must have been high. The chase and capture must thus be regarded as an integral part of the act of violent self-defence."
That issue of low conviction rates is the key thing. The public has lost confidence in the system and its ability/ willingness to apprehend and punish criminals. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, will launch Where's the Justice in That? tomorrow; a
Tory document that catalogues the huge jump in the number of cautions
for serious offences. This capitulation is driving people like Mr Hussain to take the law into their own hands.
In an article for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Grayling promises to give homeowners more protections under the law:
"There are two pieces of legislation that need to be looked at again. At the moment the law allows a defendant to use "reasonable force" to protect him or herself, their family or their property. Conservatives argue that the defence that the law offers a householder should be much clearer, and that prosecutions and convictions should only happen in cases where courts judge the actions involved to be "grossly disproportionate". A future Conservative government will look again at the current legal situation and will look to provide the right level of protection for householders. We will also put a stop to the situation where malicious complaints by troublemakers can put a law-abiding citizen into a police cell. We will change the police rule book so that they aren't allowed to arrest someone acting in good faith to prevent a crime or apprehend a criminal suspect and we will make sure that police have the freedom to apply common sense when they are faced with absurd allegations."
While I welcome Mr Grayling's words I worry about the reported decision to soften the party's prison building pledge. The Tory commitment to carry on increasing NHS spending will require even heavier cuts in justice and defence budgets. That is the wrong priority for a Conservative government.