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lcpljones_dontpanic's picture
Restraint and Citizens Arrest

Much on these forums is written and discussed regarding self defence with plenty of good advice posted to the effect that one should act first, act fast and escape.  Whilst reading another thread I got to thinking about under what circumstances one might decide to restrain and / or make a citizen’s arrest regardless of ones professional background or experience.

The following scenarios briefly presented themselves as points for consideration and discussion.

  1. You act in self defence from one lone attacker who is unarmed.
  2. You act in self defence from one attacker accompanied by a non participatory associate.
  3. you act in self defence from multiple assailants
  4. As No1, but attacker armed (blade or blunt trauma type weapons only).
  5. As No2, but attacker armed (blade or blunt trauma type weapons only).
  6. You discover a burglar in your house who immediately makes to escape without threatening you
  7. As No6, but burglar threatens you if you do not allow him to escape.
  8. You come to the aid of another who is being attacked by one lone attacker.
  9. As No8, but attacker armed (blade or blunt trauma type weapons only).
  10. You see a lone police officer attempting to arrest a single aggressive / violent subject, would you offer to assist.

Under UK legislation every citizen is legally justified to act in any of the above situations, for detailed clarification on this refer to Jissen issue 5 article entitled Round Two – Self defence and the Law.

Your thoughts, Jonesy

Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

When questions like this come up, I have a standard answer:

It does no good jumping in the water to save a drowning man if you can't swim, either.

In each of these situations, my official advice will always be: make yourself safe and call the police. They are the ones who train for this. I do not train to restrain and arrest, and I do not teach others to restrain and arrest. My goal is safety, not justice.

Tau's picture

Michael, what WOULD you intervene in?

First I tend to agree with you. However, I don't think I could stand by and watch someone get hurt if I thought I could make a difference.

Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

Yeah, you caught me.

I have intervened in violent situations. I can concieve of situations where I would intervene again. But these would be highly personal decisions, highly dependent on the situation, and would nearly always increase my risk of injury. I simply can't recommend an action which would put someone in unnecessary danger. So, officially, my answer will always be what I said above.

To use an extreme: I think we would all agree that killing someone in anger is wrong, for several definitions of wrong. I'd wager that most of us can think of a situation or two where we would gladly accept the consequences of taking that action. But I don't think any of us would ever advise, "if that ever happens, you should shoot him while he sleeps and take the prison time."

As far as I'm concerned, my first post contains the "right" answer to these questions. This post contains my caveat. Now my concience is clear to talk about hypotheticals.

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture



1 Depends on the situation and how you can justify what you had to do to negate the threat,  it doesn't have to be exact but also don't go overboard. Ie bring out the chain gun for the happy slapper

2 Same as 1 but  twice.lol

3  Make sure you don't put yourself in the places these people hang around in these gangs and run away asap. I always chuckle at the keep them all in a line so you can deal with them one at a time self defence stuff, as if they will all stand around waiting their turn to get a piece of the action.

4Run away if possible, not a fan of the knife defence stuff as most people don't even see the blade before they get stuck with it

5 Same as 4  as he who runs away lives to fight another day

6 Let them go they might have a weapon (screwdrivers, nail bars used for breaking into houses etc can still do some damage) but do  make a mental note of clothing and facial  features as the Police will probably have a good idea who it is anyway and go straight around to get them and they have all the protective equipment you don't. A good' alive' witness is far better than a ' householder killed defending his property' headline in the tabloids.

 7 Same as 6 let them  go its not worth it for something that can be replaced. 

8 be careful as both the atacker and attacked might turn on you so it ends up as double trouble.

9 Tricky one this as seeing someone pulverised would make it hard not to intervene, I would want to negate the weapon issue asap however that may be and then take it from there. 

10 Been here and  its  scarey when you are on your own you can't press your help button on your radio because you need both hands and people just stand there watching or worse still stop look and despite looking at them and saying "HELP"  they  drive off leaving you in the middle of an empty street strugglling with a 6-0  drug crazed ruffian. On this one  I say help as you won't find an ungrateful officer afterwards, especially if its me.wink

 Personaly I don't think you can pigeon hole how you should act in  self defence  because its such a difficult subject..  You can have one person who might think its fine to do one thing and another who would say it was overboard. Its what makes it such an interesting thing to discuss. 

lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi all

some great responses here, and Mike I toatally understand the stance you've taken and it is sound advice. i di not mean for the posted responses to be solely for the hypotheticals i listed the questions was more of when and if would one intervene and restrain or arrest. but hey the resonses so far have all been valid.

be safe people and if ya cant be safe stick it to emwink