Isle of Wight Neighbourhood Watch Association




police logo

How far can you go to protect your home?


There is confusion among the public about where the law stands when householders

are forced to defend themselves to protect their property and possessions. The Crown Prosecution Service and Association of Chief Police Officers have issued the following advice.  


Does the law protect me? 

Anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an

arrest or to prevent crime. You are not expected to make fine judgements over the

level of force you use in the heat of the moment.  


What is ‘reasonable force’? 

So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the

heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and

in selfdefence. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon.  

As a general rule, the more extreme the circumstances and the fear felt, the more force

you can lawfully use in self-defence.  


Do I have to wait to be attacked? 

No, not if you are in your own home and in fear for yourself or others. In those circumstances the law does not require you to wait to be attacked before using defensive force yourself.


What if the intruder dies? 

If you have acted in reasonable self-defence, as described above, and the intruder dies you will still have acted lawfully. Indeed, there are several such cases where the householder has not been prosecuted.                    


However, if, for example.......................


•  having knocked someone unconscious, you then decided to further hurt or kill

them to punish them; or.

•  you knew of an intended intruder and set a trap to hurt or to kill them rather

than involve the police, you would be acting with very excessive and

gratuitous force and could be prosecuted.


What if I chase them as they run off?  

This situation is different as you are no longer acting in self-defence and so the same

degree of force may not be reasonable. However, you are still allowed to use

reasonable force to recover your property and make a citizen’s arrest. You should

consider your own safety and, for example, whether the police have been called.

A  rugby tackle or a single blow would probably be reasonable. Acting out of malice and

revenge with the intent of inflicting punishment through injury or death would not.



valid-xhtml10 vcss

Registered Charity No:  1066686

This advice  should be read because of recent changes in the Law (2013) in the UK.                      

                     Please pay attention,and be aware! Think before you Act!

Please note:  The advice on this page, reflects the views of the authors (stated in article para 1) and does not reflect the views of IOW Neighbourhood Watch Association.  But is considered to be best advice available given the circumstances.    However each case will be examained by the CPS on evidence produced by Police investigations.


Crimestoppers Still

Copyright IOW Neighbourhood Watch 2016