"Reasonable Force"

An experiment which has failed…

What can the police do to prevent violent crime? Nothing, I am sorry to say, except wipe up the blood and tears afterwards. Or maybe photograph the corpse. And what can the Courts do for victims of violent crime? Nothing, because they cannot restore life or limb or mental equilibrium. The only defence which the individual can rely on is self defence. The police cannot get to you in time to save you because you are already there, no matter what senior officers claim with their league tables of "response times".

But you are not allowed to defend yourself or carry defensive weapons or you say? You would be wrong. You have been misled by an experiment begun by the Home Office in the mid 1960's. That was the time of "peace" and "love" and a "liberal" Home Secretary named Jenkins who abolished the death penalty. His regime promoted an official "policy" (not law) to discourage self defence and the carrying of defensive weapons which the common law, Magna Carta and the Declaration and Bill of Rights recognise as the rights of British subjects of good character since time immemorial. His Criminal Law Act of 1967 insisted that only "reasonable" force could be used to prevent crime and arrest offenders. But what is "reasonable" force. Since the 1960's it has seemed to be "minimum" or "equal" force or "let the police defend me, its their job".

And now the liberal regime holds sway amongst senior police officers and the Judiciary who began their careers in that period and were not going to risk their advancement by disagreeing even if it meant breaking their Oaths of Office to uphold the common law. And the streets are ruled by the fear which violent criminals and a generation of out of control youths who believe that they are untouchable have been allowed to generate. What the great liberal experiment has done is to generate an unacceptable situation which cannot be allowed to continue. But it was not always like this in British history. Young men have always gone through an unruly phase. Some have chosen to be criminals. British society evolved mechanisms to contain crime and violence. They are the common law duty of every citizen to prevent a breach of the peace (a crime) in their presence and the common law right of every person to use as much force as is necessary to defend themselves using weapons if required. And the definition of "necessary" is sufficient force to defend oneself without getting hurt. This was the basis of the "Hue and Cry" which struck terror into criminals. In earlier times there was no need of organised police forces. If a criminal struck the victim could defend him, or her, self and the cry would go up. All able bodied citizens in earshot were (and still are) obliged to join the chase. If the criminal resists the citizens are able to protect themselves with the weapons which they lawfully carry. And if the criminal is injured or killed then the law allows the use of sufficient force to prevent honest citizens getting hurt.

But what happened to these common law rights? The answer is that they are still there because the restriction to "reasonable" force in the 1967 Act does not apply to self defence as has been falsely claimed, only to force used to prevent crime and make an arrest (Section 3). This has happened because the legal profession has failed to read what was said in Parliament when the Criminal Law Act of 1967 was debated despite an instruction by the Attorney General that this must be done ("In practically every case involving the construction of an enactment, there must be a search in Hansard. This is because it is rarely possible to be sure, without full knowledge of the background, that the Pepper v. Hart (1992) conditions are not satisfied"). In the same way the right to carry defensive weapons has been hidden. During the debates on The Prevention of Crimes Act 1953, which placed restrictions on offensive weapons, Lord Saltoun, who had spoken vigorously on behalf of the liberties of the subject, summarised the true intent of the Act saying; "it is not the purpose of this Bill to prevent people from carrying weapons if they think it is necessary for their defence. I hope that is noted".

If a criminal resists arrest and threatens or assaults the honest citizen trying to apprehend him, then the common law right to use force in self defence applies. The common law rights of British subjects cannot be repealed and should not be ignored by Crown Servants including senior police officers and members of the Judiciary who are bound by their Oaths of Allegiance to respect them.

The inexorable rise in violent crime over the last 30 years shows that neither the police or the Courts can protect you. It is your responsibility as it always was. The time has come to reclaim civilisation from the thugs by reclaiming our common law rights. British society was outstandingly peaceful compared with other countries until the 1960's. It can be again when the liberals and their progeny are taught how to behave. Or we can continue the experiment. And the police will come and pick up the pieces, or escort the body to the Mortuary to witness the post-mortem. But it might be your body next, or one of your loved ones.

The choice is yours. More of the same or return to what has been proven over centuries to work, the common law of England; self defence and the hue and cry.

Mike Burke <mikeburke80@yahoo.co.uk>
The Magna Carta Society

(The Oct 2008 sequel to this essay is "Reasonable Force" part two.)