§ Mr. Thurnham
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received about the acceptable degree of self-defence available to citizens threatened by criminal acts; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Patten
We have received numerous inquiries and representations from right hon. and hon. Members and direct from members of the public.
The law permits a person to use reasonable force to defend himself or to prevent crime. What is reasonable will depend on all the circumstances and, if a charge is brought, will be determined by the court in each specific case. The courts have held that, if a person defending himself against attack did what he honestly and instinctively thought necessary, that would be the most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken.
The right of self-defence does not imply a right to the routine carrying by the public of weapons or articles intended for use as weapons; and we are concerned to reduce the number of weapons which are carried.