Before I teach personal safety, I need to talk about the laws relating to self-defense. These laws are contained in the criminal law act 1967. These laws state “any force used to defend yourself must be reasonable and necessary at the time. The force must be proportionate to the harm you intend to avoid.”
So let’s have a look at this and see what it means to our clients. A person may use such force that is REASONABLE in the circumstances to prevent a crime. The law makes it clear that the force must be REASONABLE. A person may use force if they honestly believe it is necessary to defend themselves or another.
Force may be used for:
- Defense of another;
- Defense of property;
- Prevention of a crime;
- Lawful arrest.
Use of force must be necessary and should only be used as a last resort, in a conflict situation; you should first try to talk the situation down in order to bring the conflict to a successful resolution. Verbal and nonverbal communication skills must be practiced with our clients so they learn to be assertive and send out the right signals, which may put a potential attacker off. Body Language is also very important and this normally says more than words. Target hardening means using your body language to look more confident; this makes you a harder target for a potential mugger or bully.
Any unnecessary force can never be reasonable. It must also be stated that a person can use force to ward off an anticipated attack, as long as the person believes an attack is imminent – they do not have to wait, they can strike first, a pre-emptive strike. This is stated in common law-
USE OF FORCE: If you have an honestly held belief that you or another are in imminent danger then you may use such force that is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger.
Section 3 Criminal Law Act states:
A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of a crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or persons unlawfully at large.
- The Human Rights Act 1998;
- Article 2: The Right For Life;
- Article 8: The Right To Respect For Private And Family Life.
Lastly, what is reasonable force? I teach, just enough force to enable you to make your escape to safety.
Article kindly provided by Jeff Gonsalves of the Shudan Dojo