A TOP lawyer today welcomed new guidelines for people faced with intruders in their home.
And Neil Franklin had a key message for Huddersfield householders: You have the right to protect your home and family.
Mr Franklin, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service in West Yorkshire, welcomed yesterday's ruling on the controversial subject.
Householders will not face prosecution for attacking or even killing a burglar providing they use only "reasonable force", according to the new guidelines.
Police and prosecutors published a leaflet advising the public how far they can go to defend their property.
Even using items as weapons would not lead to prosecution if householders were doing what they "honestly and instinctively believed was necessary in the heat of the moment".
Mr Franklin said the key was defining what was self-defence or protecting people or property, and turning into a vigilante.
"If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night, you have every right to do all you can to protect yourself and your family.
"That can go as far as killing an intruder, as the householder could have no idea about the intentions or the threat posed by the intruder.
"But if you hear a noise downstairs, investigate and see someone running away, the guidelines do not allow you to chase after them and inflict a beating.
"I think the new guidelines clarify the situation. Every case will depend on the circumstances, but the law does accept a substantial degree of force may be necessary."
The leaflet from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) attempts to clear up confusion over the point at which defending one's family and property becomes a crime.
The document, which will be distributed through Citizens' Advice Bureaux and police forces in England and Wales, said: "You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment.
"So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defence.
"This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon."