CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

HOME AFFAIRS – SETTING TRAPS FOR BURGLARS – 4 February 2005

[Patrick Mercer: ... The definition of reasonable force has had to be clarified – that is clear from the issuing of a leaflet this week. If the law is a good law, if it is working, why is an A4 leaflet necessary to clarify it? ... ]

Dr Julian Lewis: I, too, noted the issuing of the leaflet. One of the things it said that struck me was that one must not lay a trap for anyone. Let us suppose that a person has been consistently targeted by burglars. Does the rule mean that as long as that person goes to sleep, wakes up in time – before he is attacked – and then uses reasonable force on a burglar, it is all right, but if, because he has previously been targeted, he stays up at night and then uses reasonable force on a burglar, he can be convicted because he laid a trap?

[Patrick Mercer: I simply do not know. The law does not make it clear. Despite the fact that a scrap of A4 paper has been issued – albeit only 100,000 copies – I cannot give a clear answer to my hon. Friend's question.]