Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Burglars leave human rights outside, says Cameron

David Cameron

Cameron: Burglars 'forfeit their human rights'

Burglars "leave their human rights outside" when they break in to a property, Conservative leader David Cameron has said.

He promised to strengthen the law to protect householders who exercise their "legitimate" right to self-defence when confronted by an intruder.

This would mean fewer cases were taken to court, he told the BBC.

The government said Mr Cameron's comments amounted to a "wonderful sound bite" but "not a practical policy".

The Tory leader has previously spoken out on the issue after TV presenter Myleene Klass complained that she was cautioned by police for waving a knife at intruders who entered her garden.

His latest comments come after businessman Munir Hussain, who was jailed for permanently injuring an intruder who attacked him and his family, was freed by the Court of Appeal.

'Threat to family'

Speaking on BBC One's Politics Show, Mr Cameron said: "It's to make sure that fewer cases, frankly, are taken to court, that fewer people are arrested for doing what I think is perfectly legitimate, which is to defend yourself in your own home.

"The moment a burglar steps over your threshold, and invades your property, with all the threat that gives to you, your family and your livelihood, I think they leave their human rights outside."

Mr Cameron said that, under the Conservative proposals, householders would only face prosecution if they used "grossly disproportionate" force against a burglar.

He added: "You're raising the bar effectively. That will be a good step forward."

But Lord Mandelson said: "It's a wonderful sound bite but that's all it is. You know it's not a practical policy.

"It's not a practical principle of law that you can operate and which you say that anyone who is attempting to burgle another house, thereby renounces all their rights under the law. What sort of country is he trying to create?

"Of course it will receive short-term public applause from those who want to get tough on burglars, as we do in our government, but where's the practical common sense policy thinking?"

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