It appears that at least a limited form of the castle doctrine may be coming to the United Kingdom according to a story in the Daily Mail Online. Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, announced that he is changing the law that would allow home owners (or householders, in Brit-speak) to use “disproportionate force” when faced with burglars or home invaders. Currently, people in the UK are only allowed to use “reasonable” force and it was only within the last couple of years that the duty to retreat even if within the home was removed.

It will mean someone who is confronted by a burglar and has reason to fear for their safety, or their family’s safety and in the heat of the moment uses force that later seems ‘disproportionate’ will not be guilty of an offence.

This could include the use of lethal force. Only force which is ‘grossly’ disproportionate will not be permitted.

Mr Grayling said: ‘Being confronted by an intruder in your home is terrifying, and the public should be in no doubt that the law is on their side. That is why I am strengthening the current law.

‘Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are crime victims and should be treated that way.

‘We need to dispel doubts in this area once and for all, and I am very pleased to be delivering on the pledge that we made in Opposition.’

It is good to see that the United Kingdom is coming to its senses on this. Many may remember the story of farmer Tony Martin who served more time in prison for killing a burglar in his house than did the burglar’s accomplices. Martin was originally convicted of murder and eventually had his conviction reduced to manslaughter on appeal. He still had to serve a five year sentence.

Image by Adriano Aurelio Araujo

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