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Dealing with an intruder

Incidents in Hertfordshire where a householder is confronted by an intruder are very unusual. If an intruder comes into your home while you are there, it is most likely they are burglars looking for property to steal and want to avoid being confronted.

If you suspect there is an intruder in your home, remember the following advice: 

  • If you can get to a phone safely, dial 999 immediately to inform police of the situation. You could keep a phone in your bedroom so you can raise the alarm should this rare situation ever arise. This may also make you feel safer.
  • Use your judgement as to what other action you take, but keep calm and do not take any unnecessary risks.
  • If you think someone is outside then do not go and investigate. Keep yourself safe, keep the doors locked and call the police immediately on 999

It is generally best not to challenge an intruder, but the Home Office provides the information below about the law on self-defence:

  • Under the law you are entitled to use reasonable force in self-defence or to protect another person or your property.
  • The force that it is reasonable to use in any situation will depend on the threat that you are facing. For example, the level of force that you can use to defend your life is greater than the force you can use to defend your property.
  • What 'reasonable force' is will depend on the circumstances of each case and is something that only the courts can decide. This does not mean that if you injure a criminal while defending yourself or your property you will necessarily face criminal charges. But if the criminal complains that you have used unreasonable force, the police must investigate.
  • In the heat of the moment and in a panic it may be hard for you to assess the level of danger that you face. However, if charges are brought against you, the courts take account of what was reasonable for you in those circumstances – they will make some allowances for 'heat of the moment' panic.
  • The courts believe that if you did only what you honestly and instinctively thought necessary to prevent a crime, that would be strong evidence that you used only reasonable force. Generally, the courts use common sense and take account of what it is like to be faced with a violent or possibly violent criminal.
  • The law does not allow you to retaliate. Punishing criminals is a matter for the courts and you must not take the law into your own hands by trying to punish an offender for a crime committed against you, your friends, or your family.

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