Clear message on the right to self-defence
We very much welcome the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to take no further action against Andy and Tracey Ferrie. As has been widely reported in this newspaper and elsewhere over the past few days, the couple were arrested following an incident at their home near Melton in which two suspected burglars suffered shotgun wounds. Mr Ferrie told police he had fired a legally-held shotgun after a group of men entered the property at about 12.30am on Sunday. The case has reignited the debate about the rights of homeowners in such circumstances.
Yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement announcing that the couple will not face charges and giving a detailed explanation for the decision. Judith Walker, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: "I am satisfied that this is a case where householders, faced with intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self-defence. The law is clear that anyone who acts in good faith, using reasonable force, doing what they honestly feel is necessary to protect their families or their property, will not be prosecuted for such action."
It is essential that the law upholds the rights of householders to protect themselves, and that means not prosecuting people who are faced with a sudden and terrifying situation and have to decide how to react in a matter of moments.
We are not suggesting that anything goes and there must clearly be a balance between self-protection and the degree of force used.
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It is also right that each incident of this nature should be investigated and dealt with on a case by case basis according to the circumstances. However, the law should, in our opinion, be firmly weighed in favour of the householder.
There has been considerable debate about this topic in recent years and public concern that decisions have swung in the wrong direction.
So, we are very pleased with the ruling in this case, and with the Crown Prosecution Service statement which sends out a clear message that people have the right to use reasonable self-defence and that they will not face prosecution for doing so. That, we believe, is a fundamental principle which is vital in preserving the public's respect and trust in the law.