Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

RIP The Legacy of Tony Martin

We have been told that laws on the amount of force a homeowner can use against trespassers will not be changed. I am undecided about this whole question, which has gained steam ever since one evening several years ago when an intruder was killed on the Norfolk estate of farmer Tony Martin. On the one hand, a property owner should have strong rights to defend their property. But such strengthenings of the law might well have very negative social consequences.

For a start, this kind of law would be very difficult to draft (would you be allowed to use a knife, or a gun; if not, why not?; when would you be able to use this force?). It would also be difficult to enforce, as the police could probably only act on any case that involves such a law once someone has actually been injured, or worse killed.

What is more important than this is the very dangerous suggestion that people can take the law into their own hands. The law should generally not be enforced by individuals, as individuals are much more likely to get it wrong than our police forces. If the law is enforced by individuals, they usually turn into a kind of vigilante mob, which is a state of affairs that would be very unfortunate for society.

Of course, if our police force was given the ability to leave their paperwork and to get back on the streets, this whole problem might largely disappear.

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