Crime Intervention – always play the ‘Hero’?

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By Lisa-Marie Janes on 26.1.2024

Crime Intervention – always play the ‘Hero’?

I was faced with a multiplicity of conflicting reactions when Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stevenson encouraged people to tackle criminals. Whilst I agree with his point that to “actively discourage people from being responsible citizens is wrong”, there is a limit to how much one can intervene without risking one’s own life.

The Conservatives, in an attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour and make it easier for the public, propose decreasing the risk that members of the public will be prosecuted if they intervene. They also aim to amend the law to favour the householder to ensure they will not be prosecuted if they attack an intruder.

In my opinion, I feel that citizens do not contribute to the prevention of crime enough through little actions such as stepping forward as a witness. However, it is understandable why people are afraid to intervene more actively by chasing the criminal. Several cases of citizens helping others and losing their lives can attest to this. A recent case is of Sukhwinder Singh who was stabbed to death by muggers when he pursued them after they snatched a woman’s handbag.

Another reason people resist intervening in crimes is because the victims themselves have been arrested due to retaliation such as Munir Hussain who, after his family was tied up and threatened at knife-point, chased and attacked an intruder leaving him with permanent brain damage. Despite Hussain’s release, both he and his family suffered a traumatic experience and could still be at risk.

Resistance of the public to intervene can be supported by a poll of European countries in 2006 which discovered that British citizens were least likely to intervene in crime. Six out of ten Britons would be more unlikely to challenge a group of 14-year old boys vandalising a bus shelter than citizens of other countries including Germany and Spain. Yet this hesitation can be justified since in the past, the amount of gangs and knife crime had increased.

Self defence for your own protection and others is acceptable but there should be a limit – people should only use necessary force to escape from their situation. If people feel the need to intervene physically in a crime, they should understand the risks and assess their own strength. Perhaps consider, is this the best action they can take? Other actions could be more beneficial and less risky. For example, someone could take a photograph of the attacker on their mobile, call the police or others for help or shout and scream for attention. Yet other actions which could be deemed passive have also been questioned such as the recent actions of Myleene Klass who waved a knife and banged at her window through which teenagers were peering. Whilst this was threatening, it was not harmful and was performed in her home, not in public.

I believe that people should protect themselves and others from crime with necessary force but also take into account their own safety and instead pursue a more passive, but effective action.


  • I totally agree. People should be less shy and stand up to themselves but in a sensible way. Violence is not the best option. What a great article to put that view across.

    By Andrew Smith on 27.1.2024

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