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Using Reasonable Force Against Home Intruders

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Using Reasonable Force Against Home Intruders

It’s a situation that none of us wish to ever find ourselves in, and chances are we never will. However, understanding what our choices are should we find ourselves with an intruder in the home is important for getting the balance right between defending our property and staying on the right side of the law.

Many of us still find the subject of defending against intruders to be a bit of a grey area. While there may be some notion of being able to use ‘reasonable force’, one person’s definition of what this means may be very different to another’s.

What is Legal Reasonable Force?

Unfortunately, while the law states that a certain level of protection is allowed when it comes to defending our homes, it doesn’t go as far as to define what is meant by ‘reasonable force’. Government guidelines do refer to the steps that can be taken, however.

  • Protecting yourself in the ‘heat of the moment’ is permitted. Not only does this mean that physical force against an intruder is allowed, it also covers the use of an object as a weapon. A lot of this is based on a judgement made at the time – as you are not expected to take the time to consider the extent of your reasonable force while reacting to an assailant, the level of force that is considered lawful is that which you instinctively believe to be reasonable. This holds true even if the intruder suffers serious injury.  
  • While self-defence is the main premise of reasonable force, there are certain circumstances in which it is permissible to chase down and tackle a burglar in order to prevent their escape or perform a citizen’s arrest.

What is Considered Illegal?

While the law has a certain amount of flexibility regarding what is considered reasonable force, there are one or two areas on which it is clear in its description of what is considered excessive.

  • If you continue to attack an intruder after any danger has passed, or after you have effectively subdued them, this is deemed unnecessary, and will not constitute as reasonable force. You could be liable to prosecution in these circumstances, regardless of whether or not the intruder is found guilty of the initial break-in.
  • If there is any premeditated intent in catching an intruder, such as setting a trap, this no longer constitutes either self-defence or reasonable force, and as such will also make you open to prosecution. Should you suspect that someone is planning a break-in at your house, you must inform the police rather than taking matters into your own hands.

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you guard your home sufficiently against intruders to avoid the need for reasonable force should one gain entry. AAI Security Systems are the leading providers of burglar alarm, CCTV and access control systems in London and the surrounding counties. For more information, or to arrange a free site survey from a member of our expert team, get in touch with AAI Security Systems today.


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