What Are The UK Self Defence Laws | Legal Self-Defence

What Are The UK Self Defence Laws

What Is Self Defence?

The self defence laws in the UK are quite clear, and are essentially based on past common experiences.

The law itself is actually quite clearly good law, and in itself makes good sense, in that should you ever find yourself being involved in a situation where you are actually being physically attacked by another person, you will then have a perfect right to appropriately defend yourself.

As well as being able to defend yourself, It also makes perfectly good sense for you to be able to defend yourself within reason, and defend by only doing what you consider is reasonable force and necessary to prevent more harm being inflicted upon yourself.

The UK self defence laws allow you to use force as self defence in the following situations:

  • Self-defence
  • Defence of another person
  • Protection of property
  • Making a lawful arrest
  • Preventing crime
  • In the many varying self defence situation, one thing remains constant
    that is the fact that you can only use
    against an attacker.

    This can be somewhat of a problem as the grounds for reasonable force, and this includes various forms of martial arts, and under what particular circumstances that reasonable force is applied is only to be decided by a court of law.

    The crucial factor here is:
    Your version of 'reasonable force' may differ significantly from that of another...

    Self-defence can be used as your defence to crimes that are committed by the use of force.

    In a nutshell this means: If you are in a situation where someone is attacking you, it is acceptable for you to defend yourself in a reasonable manner and using reasonable force in order to stop them, and prevent them from causing you any more subsiquent injury.

    It does not mean you can just pull out a machete and start chopping them up..!

     Similarly you cannot just pull out a knife that you happened to have on your person at the time, or any weapon that you decide to use to defend yourself, as that would very easily be deemed as an offensive weapon, and considered to be a disproportionate response to the attack on you in those circumstances.
    But: if the attack were to continue, and you feared more violence, or worse still, you feared for your life, you can use what you consider to proportional at the time. 
    This may well now include using that knife that you happened to have on you at the time.

    What Is Reasonable Force?

    Again, remember that one persons idea of reasonable can be something quite different from yours - and this, my friends is where we have the biggest problem, deciding on exactly how much force is actually considered to be reasonable.?

    Below are some of the main, generally accepted reason for lawful self defence here in the UK:

    • If you find yourself being attacked, regardless of the actual reason, you have a perfect right within the UK law to use an amount of reasonable force in order to defend yourself against that attack.
    • If any member of your family or friends you were with at the time were being attacked, you can again use suitable reasonable force to stop that attack.
    • The same UK law also applies for your property - in so much as it is perfectly within the UK law to use reasonable force to prevent and stop someone who may be damaging or stealing your property.
    • In fact you can also use reasonable force in order to help prevent an attack on any member of the public in order to help prevent a crime and make a lawful arrest.

    Of course there are sensible parimeters to stick too:
    That being you have to believe that there is a genuine reason for you to use self defence in this way…

    AND… again, it is essential that the amount of reasonable force used must be in proportion to the attack on you.

    You can execute self defence before being attacked.

    There are some circumstances where you may fear an attack is imminent, in this case the law says – you do not have to wait to be attacked before using a form of self defence – and you are within the UK law to use a method of self defence to strike an assailant BEFORE they attack or strike you.

    But remember the most important part of the law - Only reasonable force can be used, and it must be proportional to the perceived, imminent attack.

    Steve Hart UK Prepper
    So what does this all mean to us preppers?
    Well, if the SHTF it will mean absolutely nothing..! Free reign for everyone would be the order of the day. Sure, there would be some effort to contain people from doing "bad" things. But even now, in 'peaceful' time we see looting and violence in any disaster event around the world.
    But for now we all try to live in a relatively safe and peaceful way. Conflict is never good. But should you find yourself in a situation where you fear for your safety, or the safety of others, then act within the current UK law and you'll be fine.
    Just don't go berserk - remember, reasonable force....

    Of course there is one BIG PROBLEM with this whole self defence thing - bad guys don't care about the law. You may be living your life within the laws of the land, but there are others who don't.

    Essentially you have no defence against an attacker who pulls a knife on you, other than having luck on your side! Not much use really. We can buy and own a lot of self defence weapons, but that's as far as it gets. You'll get arrested if you carry them in public - hardly self defence weapons then really?

    It's a massive 'catch 22' and whatever way you lean in this debate, there will be a perfectly good counter argument against you. 

    Happy Prepping Folks, Steve

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      • Bri on July 22, 2020 at 6:58 pm
      • Reply

      Hi there, I wanted to ask what would happen if say a person I didn’t know came into my flat and was next to my front door (sitting in the chute); this instance happened to me and I was in a situation where I was scared especially as I had no idea what they had on them (i.e. drugs or a weapon)

      (Sorry for the poor explanation; sometimes I’m not good at explaining things well).

      • Mark on January 6, 2020 at 8:32 pm
      • Reply

      Quick question for anyone

      I have never carried weapons in public for the obvious reasons

      However at home I have a variety of items from tools such as hammers, machetes etc or swords/knives I have collected etc

      Now in a situation where my home is broken into by a burglar, am I able to pick up my machete for example to go downstairs to investigate and possibly confront a Intruder

      I understand the concept of reasonable force where I would be jailed for repeatedly striking a burglar with a machete until he was dead because a jury might find it excessive

      BUT is me carrying or taking the machete down with me legal or would that get a UK homeowner into trouble.

      • Shant on November 16, 2019 at 7:48 pm
      • Reply

      I think all the good guys and girls can agree on the fact you do what you have to do no matter the law.it’s a then a now situation and what use is the law for a victim when being attacked and the perpitrater it’s like they want the good guy to do as they are told and that’s that it’s all about keeping control of society.we the police are the law and master the government is law well as far as I am concerned they ain’t got it right at all. and love Pointing they’re finger at us.they can have all the intelligence in the world but they really lack common sense an emotional intelligence.we after all are human beings first not citizens. human beings have defended them self s instinctively long before the law was there.and My son has been hit so many times by a boy who does karate so he smacked him with a branch he lost it finally and he’s s a nice kind boy with friends and funny but that boy got that reaction and then my self and my partner went crazy with the parant s for letting this go on and on a year now.her exercise was her son has issues an i explained those issues are not my problem they are hers and they are no excuse i have 5kids an I’m 30 not one of mine acts like her child.the police came out took her side and told my son off and then threatened him with juvenile court of he was 10 my son and we explained he’s being bullied badly.she didn’t give a shit the point was we got morals and they don’t do the police could lecture me and knew they get no where with her .it’s heart breaking watching my son keep getting hit.an as I told my boy keep smacking him in self defense all you want with a stick until your 10 then and if they lecture you again you ask them why they can tasser people and use a batton. They will say in self defense and he can say well it’s the same thing.the gov wants us like well behaved children to do as we are told or else.

        • James on July 28, 2020 at 2:09 am
        • Reply

        I would say judge the moment if you feel that your life or the life of your loved ones are threatened then go as far as you see fit after all the law can not protect your life once it has been taken only avenge it with weak custodial sentences and anyone who has actually been in these types of situations knows you will very rarely get the time to call 999 let alone the response time it will take to come to your rescue

      • Bill on November 4, 2019 at 4:21 am
      • Reply

      What do women do when attacked by a man? Fight them?

        • Bella on May 26, 2020 at 5:43 pm
        • Reply

        Yeah and we castrate them too. Duh.

      • DANAIL YANKOV on August 16, 2019 at 10:45 pm
      • Reply

      I had a similar case at work, after prolonged harassment, discriminatory statements by a colleague and his friend, which I reported to management, but no action was taken on this, resulting in me being physically assaulted by one of them. caught by him and hit with his forehead in the area of ​​my mouth, which resulted in two damaged teeth. To protect myself, I stepped back to tear myself from his arms and gave him a slap, hoping that he would realize what he was doing. As a result, we were both dismissed from work, an investigation was made, and disciplinary listening, after ignoring all my words of self-defense, fired me. Subsequent appeal, which again showed all the problems that led to it, proved their incompetence and inability to respond to it after my complaints, but the result was again a confirmation of the previous decision, despite obvious violations or passive inaction on their part. I am currently expecting a CASE MANAGEMENT DISKUSSION on September 5, 2019. I have filed a complaint for wrongful dismissal, hiding of discriminatory attitude at work, responsibility for assault in the workplace. I would enjoy advice on what else I can do to win the case.

        • DANAIL YANKOV on August 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm
        • Reply

        I live and work in Northern Ireland, I think the legislation there is a little different from the rest of England

      • Liberty on July 27, 2019 at 4:39 pm
      • Reply

      My family with their children on New Years Eve at home with friends found themselves under the attack of a stifled English idiot. The problem is that I’m in a military service and I was able to use an imbecile who knocked on the door with a knife to even tear down his lower jaw or bloat his eyes with the wiping of his pins. Police assholes who arrived after arriving more interested in what is on the table to eat than the whole thing. The English junkie got only 3 months of suspended detention. The right to own a weapon has everyone and it is inscribed instinctively as a reflex to defend one’s own life and every law that forbids it does not work in my defense and it is not enforced by me.

      • Dr Myer on April 2, 2019 at 12:54 pm
      • Reply

      There is no such thing as “UK Law”

      • Zara on September 21, 2018 at 10:06 am
      • Reply


      Thanks to everyone for their input, especially Mr. B. Jones. I came across farbgel as a self-defence tool in the past but somehow forgot to buy it/or maybe I wasn’t one hundred percent sure of it’s legality. Then recently, after seeing that attack on a Birmingham traffic warden, I was left seething in anger and wishing I’d been there to kick the attacker’s future offspring into non-existance. The thing is that I am a Muslim female who wears the hijab and veil, and for obvious reasons, getting into physical altercations is something I’d rather avoid. Yet, unlike the cowards who just stood and watched, I would try and defend the victim. So what better way to avoid having my hijab ripped off and at the same time helping an innocent victim? Surely has to be farbgel! I’ll be happily placing and order later today.

      1. Thank you for your comment Zara.

        best regards, Steve

      • Charlotte K on August 23, 2018 at 1:14 am
      • Reply

      Someone brake in to my house few days ago and stolen my iphone on my bedside table. My bedroom door was unlocked. Luckily I was asleep and did not have confrontation with the intruder, and found out the next morning that the intruder had break in through ground floor bathroom window not from my bedroom on the ground floor.

      IF I happened to catch up the intruder in action, trying to steal things inside my property (house), what should I do?

      Should I try to get my things from the intruder and scare him with offensive tools? Chase him and scare him away? Fight him? Run inside, lock the door and call the police (while I need to waiting very long to talk to the operator)? Because I pratice martial art with close encounter combat.

      Please advise.

        • Matty S on August 27, 2018 at 5:31 am
        • Reply

        Box his bloody head off! Have a secret weapon in every room, Cricket/Baseball bat, Dumbbells, Crobar whatever… a bloody big wrench or a shovel. Use ye skills and beat the shit out of the rat. Elbow to the face is always a good’n too. At the end of the day, if you do confront someone in your house, you could never know if they have a blade tucked away. Better safe than sorry. crack their skull.

        • Matty S on August 27, 2018 at 6:10 am
        • Reply

        I don’t know if these replies even work but ive just figured a great defense; uncrew weights on fairly large dumbbells, use the steel cogs as missile weapons and use the steel pipe 2 handed and swing left and right, it should fit in your pocket well enough to maneuver before confrontation if you lean it towards your torso. might want to aim for the mid-section with the pipe though, it wouldn’t crack a skull it would kill them. break the jaw and teeth easy but a head blow would be fatal. if you throw those cogs well enough though… could easily drop them

      • Barry Jones on June 9, 2018 at 4:17 am
      • Reply

      Steve, You need to look at Section 3 of the Criminal law act. I am a retired Police Constable and yes I carried a gun. One of my last violent arrests on duty was when 6′ 4″ 20 year old attacked me spat blood in my mouth and tried to break my neck. I took him to the ground choked him out and nearly broke his arm, he started to cry. I was so looking forward to the court case as I was sure some smart arse lawyer would have a go. The big but I was 46 5’9″ and carrying injuries from the job, my use of force was proportionate as if I did not go in so violent I would of lost which could of included my life. When his brief saw me he got him to go guilty, he went to prison. I do have the odd black belt in martial arts. Without quoting legislation take a look at section 3 as a firearms officer we had it drummed into us, if any citizen of the UK complies with that they will never be prosecuted, also command law. Put it basically if someone breaks into your home and you honestly believe they are going to kill you, open season on them. Good website and both my Wife and I carry farbgel.com.

      • Alistair on February 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm
      • Reply

      You say that “Similarly you cannot pull out a knife that you happened to have on your person at the time, or any weapon that you decide to use to defend yourself as that would be deemed as an offensive weapon, and disproportionate to the attack on you in those circumstances”.

      Yes you can. UK law allows you to use any force to defend yourself (or others) up to and including lethal force with deadly weapons. It does however have to be proportionate to the threat. It will potentially be up to you to subsequently demonstrate in court that the force which you used in self defence was not disproportionate and that will be true whether you punch an attacked, hit him with your brolly, or shoot him in the face with a shotgun.

      As a ‘for example’ if you are single woman at home and you confront a masked intruder who tries to rape you, you are fully entitled to pull out a knife (or get one in the ensuing struggle from your kitchen worksurface) and stick it straight between the intruders ribs. Clearly this is proportionate use of force with a deadly weapon. There is not a police force in the country who would try to prosecute that and if they tried to, any jury would throw it out of court laughing. Clearly the force used was potentially lethal – or perhaps even lethal – but it was manifestly not disproportionate to the threat.

      What you couldn’t however do is, when the masked intruder legs it up the street bleeding all over himself, is give chase and finish the little shit off with multiple stabs to the back (however ‘justified’ you might quite reasonably feel). Or get in your car and run him down.

      A lot of people think that in the UK the use of lethal force with a deadly weapon is not allowed in self defence. That is rubbish. It is. And the same law applies to the police. When they discharge firearms they are covered by exactly the same self defence laws as a private citizen. There are no special laws to allow them open fire on a criminal. The only difference is that they are allowed to do it in the street with issued weapons, whereas private citizens can only do in their own homes. Both police and private citizens can equally be called to account for their actions in court if it is seen that they have used excessive force in self defence.

      Two things to remember:

      1) When seconds count, the police are only 10 minutes away.
      2) It is ALWAYS better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.

      1. You make some very good points there Alistair, thank you.
        I think I may have worded some sentences that can be misinterpreted.
        The “Similarly you cannot pull out a knife” sentence relates to at typical situation where someone is simply threatening you, maybe raising a fist, in which case pulling out a knife and stabbing him would be disproportionate and you would be convicted of a crime with an offensive weapon.
        There are also many areas that are both objective, relating to the amount of force, and subjective, related to the circumstances a person believes them to be.
        You will always find some limp wristed moron who believes that a if a man rapes a woman and she defends herself, injuring him in the process, the attacker still has rights..!
        We are both on the same wavelength there, as he should get life in a pig pen, and if she has defended herself, then bloody good show.
        But there are still grey areas:
        If you are attacked with a knife you may defend yourself with a knife: if you are attacked with bare fists you may defend yourself likewise. Do more in either instance and you have a very high chance of being charged with an offence against the person, anything from common assault to murder.
        Although layered out in written law, I still think it is subjected to so many different interpretations of different opinions.
        Again, thanks for taking time to comment, and I will look at rewording that sentence.
        All the best, Steve UKpreppersGuide

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