'The use of reasonable force'

01 January 2001

Anne Widdecombe announced a new Tory policy suggesting that people who attacked intruders should be presumed innocent unless there was evidence that excessive force had been used.

Deborah Clark, Director of Public Affairs at Liberty was perplexed...

"Miss Widdecombe's proposals are no different from the current law, which allows a house-holder to use "reasonable force" to defend themselves and their property.

"I don't think Miss Widdecombe is changing anything at all, although if she is suggesting that police should always assume that reasonable force was used - unless somebody is extremely seriously injured, we wouldn't agree with that kind of change.

Even under the Tories proposals the police and CPS have to review force anyway to see if it was reasonable (or excessive). There have been cases in the past where serious injury or even death have been considered to be reasonable force where people are under severe threat."