There was also a break-in at the Morocco Store on Leathermarket Street, two nights running recently. They bashed a ground floor door in and took computer equipment I think. The guys repairing the door said it is crazy that because of building preservatuion orders (is that what it's called ?) they can't put any kind of security grate on the outside. It's a curved wooden door and costs thousands to replace.
A few years ago my local garage was broken in to for the umpteenth time within a couple of months and the cars on the forecourt vandalised. The owner was sick of it and told the police that if his seven foot high solid fence and gate wasn't an adequate deterrent, then the barbed wire he'd decided to fit to the top of it should be. The police advised against it, saying that if someone injured themselves on it, 'while breaking in to his property,' (I love that bit...Not!)Then they could sue him. I know we are now allowed to use 'reasonable force,' if we confront an intruder, without fear of prosecution, but does that extend to the use of gadgets or devices? If an intruder fell over in the fog created by the machine and injured themselves, could they sue?
I'm not being cynical, it's serious question and I would like to know the answer because we seem to be in an age where the law is too often concerned with the well-being of the perpetrators of crime, than that of the victims of it.
They are trespassing so I do not believe so. I suppose technically speaking they could injure themselves on the outside of the wall and make an obscure claim, but once they are trespassing on property I would expect their options to be severely limited.
The law recognises rights to trespassers (to which burglars belong) under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984. This is English law, long before the Human Rights Act came into force. There is a well-known case about a burglar successfully suing the owner after being shot. In essence the owner must take such care as was reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that [the trespasser] did not suffer injury on the premises.
Is it reasonable in all the circumstances to use barbed wire? I would say it is so long as the barbed wire is not concealed and cannot be reached accidentally. What do you think?
I can only repeat what the garage owner told me. The police were very clear in their warning that, 'If anyone injures themselves on the barbed wire while attempting to break in to your property, they can sue you.'
I agree about the barbed wire having to be visible, but these yobs were breaking in at night. I suppose the law's answer to that would be to install some expensive lighting so that the criminals could see the wire. Perhaps the local criminals could have had a whip round to pay for it. It would, after all, have been in their interest. Sorry, now I am being cynical.
I certainly don't suggest booby traps, trip wires or land mines, but if someone injures themselves whilst attempting to commit a crime, then it serves them right.
Years ago I was working as a landscape garden (!) in a rather nice block of homes, not far from here. The former church had been converted into apartments, and featured a small courtyard.
My client asked me to nail some vines to the wall, which I dutifully did. Unfortunately his neighbour had installed the smoke deterrents, which were vibration sensitive.
He came home to a smoke filled flat, how we laughed!