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Protect Farmers, Don't Prosecute Them

Protect Farmers, Don't Prosecute Them

If the Northland farmer who shot a thief was defending his property as reported, the police should not harass him or take any further legal action, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"The police chose not to prosecute Constable Abbott, leaving it up to the offender's family to do so. They should apply the same standard to all. If the criminal with shotgun pellets wants to prosecute the farmer, leave him to do it himself.

"In nine-out-of-ten self defence shootings police prosecute and a jury wisely dismisses the case. This process is damaging to the defendant and to public faith in the judicial system.

"A drawn-out trial costs the defendant tens of thousands of dollars. This sickens ordinary law-abiding New Zealanders. They know villains have lost their fear of the law. They know that especially in rural areas the police don't turn up for hours. It is tyrannous for the State to say, "you can't defend yourself or your property" when the State has reneged on its side of the deal, and can't defend either.

"People are sick of seeing the community's institutions - police, courts and prosecutors - ganging up on the crime victim who has said "enough is enough".

"If the police prosecute people who defend themselves, their families and their property, they send a chilling, clear message to criminals:

1. No matter what you cost the community, the State will pretend that you are of more concern than your victims.

2. You can act viciously without regard to the fear and misery you inflict, but the real victim cannot react normally and naturally.

3. The law will help you bully prospective victims into making crime riskless for you. People thinking of self-defence will have to balance fear of the criminals with fear of the police.

"While the Police maintain their routine prosecution policy, the message is that the community does not really abhor crime - a significant chunk of the law establishment will be on the criminals' side, whatever they do.

"I plan to make sure our law of self defence is restored. Victims should not have to hide and quake while their property is stolen, because they are not allowed to defend themselves.

"The politicians who gutted our criminal law with penalties that don't punish have no right to deplore self-defence. They would only have a right to do so if they could promise that the police and the courts can defend people. They can't," Mr Franks said.

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