Self Defence and the Law
This article includes extracts from a booklet published by the British Home Office, Communication Directorate dated Jan 2003.
Tomiki Aikido is a sport with self defence aspects and should not be used in any way to ‘punish’ any person or persons that attack you or a member of your family. You should also remember that although you may practice on a regular basis you are not invulnerable. A ten week course in aikido will not give you the ability to walk alone in dark places and fend off a group of attackers. Further more this is real life, not the cinema, Even Steven Segal has been hurt by this stunt actors. But if you can and do use Aikido to defend your self or you family then below is the Plain English Version of the United Kingdom law on self-defence.
The law on self-defence
Under the law you are entitled to use reasonable force in self-defence or to protect another person or your property.
The force that it is reasonable to use in any situation will depend on the threat that you are facing. For example, the level of force that you can use to defend your life is greater than the force you can use to defend your property.
What ‘reasonable force’ is will depend on the circumstances of each case and is something that only the courts can decide. This does not mean that if you injure a criminal while defending yourself or your property you will necessarily face criminal charges. But if the criminal complains that you have used unreasonable force, the police must investigate.
In the heat of the moment and in a panic it may be hard for you to assess the level of danger that you face. However, if charges are brought against you, the courts take account of what was reasonable for you in those circumstances – they will make some allowances for ‘heat of the moment’ panic.
The courts believe that if you did only what you honestly and instinctively thought necessary to prevent a crime, that would be strong evidence that you used only reasonable force. Generally, the courts use common sense and take account of what it is like to be faced with a violent or possibly violent criminal.
The law does not allow you to retaliate. Punishing criminals is a matter for the courts and you must not take the law into your own hands by trying to punish an offender for a crime committed against you, your friends, or your family.