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Hull MP welcomes self-defence reforms

Reforms aimed at giving more support to people who intervene to tackle criminals have been supported by Hull North MP Diana Johnson in the House of Commons.

The reforms are intended to give the public confidence that the law is on their side if they act reasonably in using force, where;

• 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 proposed 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 violent criminal incident in the street.

Diana Johnson MP said: “These measures clarify and reinforce the law of self-defence, making clear the state’s responsibility to stand by those acting in good faith when using force in self-defence against a criminal.

“Good citizens, often with only seconds to act in difficult situations, should not be put off tackling criminals by the fear that they will be subject to 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 is on their side.

“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.

“This move, part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration bill, is good news for law-abiding people of Hull. It demonstrates Labour’s commitment to ensuring that the law is on the side of the law-abiding majority.”

The amendments follow an announcement by Justice Secretary Jack Straw at the 2007 Labour Conference in which Mr Straw said that he planned to review the law on self defence.