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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 19, 2007: The Public & Tackling Offenders

Measures which the government argue will give the public confidence when tackling criminals were published today. The reforms are designed to clarify and reinforce the law, articulating the state's responsibility to stand by those acting in good faith when using force in self defence.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:

'Law-abiding citizens should not be put off tackling criminals by fear of excessive investigation. The law should be seen as supporting them right from the start. 'In the case of a passer-by witnessing a crime in the street for example, or a householder faced with a burglar in his home, we are reassuring them that if they intervene and necessarily use force which is not excessive or disproportionate, the law really is behind them.'

Jack Straw had announced in September 2007 his intention to review the law. At the time he said:

'How each of us reacts if we encounter a burglar or a street robber has to be a matter of individual discretion and there's a critical line between responsibility and recklessness. I know from personal experience that you have all of a millisecond to make the judgment about whether to intervene. In such a situation, the law on self defence works much better than most people think; but not as well as it could or should.'

'The justice system must not only stand up, but be seen to be standing up for people if they do the right thing as good citizens. So I intend urgently to review the balance of the law to ensure that those who seek to protect themselves, their loved ones, their homes and other citizens, know that the law really is on their side, that we back those who do their duty.'

The reforms come as amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. They are intended to give the public confidence that the law is on their side if they act reasonably in using force, including the fact that:

  • they acted instinctively;
  • they feared for their safety or that of others, and acted based on their perception of the threat faced and the scale of that threat;
  • the level of force used was not excessive or disproportionate in the circumstances as they viewed them.

The law clarifies the existing common law defences and the statutory provisions under the Criminal Law Act 1967. It will enhance the understanding of when force is 'reasonable' as applied in a range of different circumstances, including the householder defending their home and the passer-by intervening in a criminal incident in the street.

The Ministry of Justice state that it is important that the public and officials on the frontline dealing with self defence incidents understand how the current law should work in practice this amendment builds on a strong body of case law to strengthen and broaden this understanding.