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Franks to beef up Self-defence Bill

Franks to beef up Self-defence Bill

The unwillingness of Justice Minister Phil Goff to even talk about restoring practical self-defence rights and developments in Britain, have prompted plans by ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks to strengthen his reforms to block prosecutions of people who defend their own property.

"I'm encouraged by yesterday's plain speaking of Britain's top cop, Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. He agrees that people who defend their families and property should only face prosecution over injuries to intruders in `extreme circumstances', where they could be shown to have used gratuitous violence.

"Sir John thinks that the common-law test of `reasonable force' is now too imprecise for people when they are in extremis. `It's all very well for the lawyers to say the law is clear but I'm afraid people on the streets don't feel that, and on occasions neither do the police' said Sir John. He would shift the onus of proof so that police, prosecutors and the courts should presume that the force someone used in their home was within the law, unless the facts clearly disproved that.

"My Crimes (Self-defence) Amendment Bill essentially restores rights lost to New Zealanders in 1980. I drafted it conservatively, hoping that even a `soft on crime' Labour government would look at it seriously. Sadly Mr Goff tried to make it seem extreme by calling it `Americanisation'.

"A month ago I told Mr Goff that he won't be able to squelch this pressure and by refusing to debate it he'll just make it likely the ultimate reform will be more radical. Well now I know it's not worth trying to get Labour onside I can draft it more simply. I think that top British view is correct. What Sir John is suggesting is pretty much along the lines of successful New South Wales law reforms.

"It would be great for this country if our top police could show their independence from their politically correct masters, and back what commonsense front-line cops already tell farmers under threat. That is `Do what you need to do because we won't be able to get there in time, but don't go berserk and shoot someone in the back'.

"Instead of parroting the Government's line that self-defence is `taking the law into your own hands' they should promise to try to shelter farmers and other home defenders from Ms Wilson's Crown Law Office prosecutors," Mr Franks said.

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