PM announces The Citizen’s Arrest and Self-Defen​ce Act

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the introduction of The Citizen’s Arrest and Self-Defence Act. The legislation will expand the circumstances in which citizens’ arrests can be made, and streamline and simplify the self–defence and defence of property provisions in the Criminal Code.

“Our Government is committed to putting real criminals behind bars. Canadians who have been the victim of a crime should not be re-victimized by the criminal justice system. That’s why we have introduced changes to the Criminal Code so Canadians know they have the law on their side and that our justice system targets criminals and not victims.” 

Currently, the ability to make a citizen’s arrest is very restricted and is only permitted if an individual is caught actively engaged in a criminal offence on or in relation to one’s property.

The legislation would authorize an owner, a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by them, to arrest a person within a reasonable amount of time after they find that person committing a criminal offence either: 

  • on their property (e.g. the offence occurs in their yard); or
  • in relation to their property (e.g. their property is stolen from a public parking lot).

This citizen’s arrest authority applies when it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer (i.e. a police officer) to make the arrest.

“Law-abiding Canadians should not be the target of the criminal justice system. This new law provides clear direction on the appropriate use of citizen’s arrest, self-defence and defence of property,” noted Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Canadians want to know they are able to protect themselves against criminal acts and that the justice system is behind them, not against them.”

The legislation being introduced in no way compromises the principle that police are the first line of protection against crime. Police officers will continue to have the responsibility to preserve and maintain public peace as Canada’s first and foremost criminal law enforcement body. The legislation simply recognizes that the police cannot be everywhere at once, and that Canadians must be able to protect themselves and their property in urgent situations.

This bill would also reform self-defence and defence of property provisions in the Criminal Code, which the police, prosecutors and the courts have all acknowledged to be confusing and overly complex. These laws would be clarified so that it will be easier to determine whether the actions of an individual, made in defence of themselves, others or their property are reasonable. A person acting in such cases should, therefore, not be charged or convicted of a criminal offence for those actions.

An online version of the legislation will be available at www.parl.gc.ca

http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=1&featureId=6&pageId=26&id=3965

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