Blake Fire and Security Systems

What To Do During A Break In - Reasonable Force Against Burglars

Date: 17 February 2022

It's 3am and you're abruptly awoken from your sleep by the sound of rustling, banging and footsteps downstairs. It's not a dream - there's an intruder in your house.

Your other half is still asleep next to you and your children are sleeping soundly in their bedrooms across the landing.

You hear footsteps coming up the stairs. What's your next move?

Learning what to do during a break in

What To Do During A Break In Burglar-Christmas.jpg

What if the burglar is armed with a weapon? What if he's violent?

Knowing what to do during a break in could potentially save your life. Most burglars will escape as quickly as possible if they believe they have woken you but others prefer a challenge.

If you decide to actively defend your home and family from the burglar, read the following information carefully. Going a step too far could land you in a court room...

What is reasonable force?

You may have read online that you have the right to "act with reasonable force" towards an intruder... but what does that actually mean?

1. Citizen's arrest

You have the right to tackle the intruder to the ground and perform a citizen's arrest.

This means you can use a reasonable amount of force to keep them on the ground until the Police arrive. You are not permitted to assault the intruder as this would be seen as "grossly disproportionate force" in the eyes of the law.

2. Protecting yourself in the heat of the moment

The Crown Prosecution Service state that:

"the law does not require you to wait to be attacked before using defensive force yourself."

This means that if you believe you and your family are in danger, you can initiate your defence towards the intruder.

Crossing the line can lead to prosecution

As mentioned briefly before, using "grossly disproportionate force" on a burglar can land you in trouble. You are not permitted to:

  • "take matters into your own hands" and punish the burglar on your own terms instead of contacting the Police
  • Continue to assault the burglar when you are no longer in danger - e.g.
    • when the burglar is on the ground in a citizen's arrest
    • when the burglar is fleeing from the scene

Prevent this situation from occurring altogether

Knowing the theory of what to do during a break in is all very well. However, in an ideal situation, your family would never have to suffer this trauma in the first place.

It's critical that your home is properly safeguarded so that it doesn't end up on an intruder's hit list.

Closing curtains and locking doors isn't enough anymore. A professionally fitted home alarm system will be a far greater deterrent to burglars targeting your home.

Better yet, an alarm system that is monitored by an ARC (alarm receiving centre) who can contact the Police on your behalf during an emergency. Even if your property is empty, you're protected.

But that's only one piece of your home security puzzle.

How safe is your home? Could you be facing a burglar any time soon?

You may think your home is safe but your family could be sitting ducks. It's Blake's NSI Gold and SSAIB accreditations that allow us to pass our expertise on to homeowners, like you. This 5 min quick quiz addresses potential security weak points in your property you might not think of! Look at your home through a burglar's eyes... is it as safe as you thought?

Tap the image below to get started and take the quiz!


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This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Call Blake's on 01702 447800 to speak to one of our professionals for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up to date.

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