Tories to protect "have-a-go" heroes

BIRMINGHAM (Reuters) - Law-abiding citizens who intervene if they see crimes being committed will have greater protection from arrest and prosecution under plans to be unveiled by the Conservatives on Tuesday.

Conservative leader David Cameron listens to shadow chancellor George Osbourne speak at the Conservative Party annual conference, in Birmingham on September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

According to extracts of a speech made available to journalists, Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve will say that police too readily accept accusations made by criminal suspects against “have-a-go-heroes” who try to stop wrong-doing.

“No wonder people in this country fear standing up to criminals,” he will tell Conservative activists at their autumn conference in Birmingham.

The Conservatives have traditionally been the party of “law and order” and accuse Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour government of being soft on crime.

A future Tory government would amend police procedures to give officers discretion not to arrest those acting in good faith to stop a crime.

Where a person was arrested, crown prosecutors would have to take into consideration that they were trying to foil a criminal act.

The Conservatives point to a series of cases in which people intervening to prevent crime have found themselves arrested and in some cases prosecuted.

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They cited the case of chip shop owner Nicholas Tyers and his son Lee who were arrested and prosecuted for kidnap in 2006 after they detained a 12-year-old boy who had smashed their window.

The prosecution was abandoned six months later after a judge threw out the case.

“A Conservative government will reverse this perverse approach to law enforcement,” Grieve will say.

“It’s our duty to help not hinder active citizens.”

Reporting by Tim Castle