Monday, October 22, 2007

The Case for More Than 28 Days Detentions Died Today

Jacqui Smith appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee today and completely destroyed her own government's case for increasing the number of days terrorist suspects can be held from 28 days. She revealed that there hasn't been a single occasion when there has been a need to do so so far. She then said that the need for an extension is 'precautionary', and that it is the police who feel it's necessary, due to the nature of the threat we face.

Jonathan Levy on the Boulton & Co blog says...
It seems to me that the job of government is not just to grant police powers,
but also to curtail them where they would be disproportionately draconian.

That's probably the most telling sentence I have read on a blog for a long time.


Anonymous said...

Iain, I oppose the extension of detention periods on principle - but the fact that the extended detention provisions have not been used is no argument against having them; indeed, potentially it shows the police demonstrating responsibility in the exercise of these powers. The proponents of these provisions would say that their exercise is supposed to be rare; the point is that when needed, they're there - and that if such a need arises in the future, we're better off with them. Non-exercise thus far does nothing to undermine that - indeed, as I say, it supports it.

Madasafish said...

On the logic used by Alex above, I have a law in our house that elephants are not allowed inside or on the grass. I have never had to use the law yet. This supports my law.

If the 28 day detention period is insufficient in only a few cases, one would think on the law of probabilities we would have had one case by now.
I suspect the reason why we do not is that no arrests are made until enough evidence has been gathered to allow a successful prosecution. Hence the 28 day period is not needed.

You could argue ther emay be a lot of cases all at once requiring urgent action - and hence diluting resources, or one case where very urgent acttion is required (say) to prevent a bombing. Would 28 days make any difference in the above?

Colin D said...

The police in the guise of sir Ian Blair and that foster fella who we in Kent have paid a lot of wonger to study "law" are really not worth a pair of cold kippers on a Sunday. After all has sufficient time and our money been wasted to do a complete risk assessment of living under arrest in Police custody. Bring back the Rope and birch.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Alex.

Obviously we need at least a few people killed as a result of not having >28 detention. But when that happens, I would then be in favour of >28 day detentions. Ideally, the people would be Alex's relatives, or those of other Independent readers (sorry - those clever people, whether or not they read the Independent, who oppose the measures that would render us modern day slaves). The pain and anguish would then be confined to those people who wouldn't get angry that the 28 day detention limit had not been increased.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, I'd also oppose any measures to expose the identity of anonymous commenters on blogs who make a complete arse of themselves by making an off-target sarcastic retort to another comment, as a result of not being able to read.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't we therefore be REDUCING the limit, not increasing it? Reacting to terrorism by surrendering liberties to give NuLab the chance to look tough was always a terrible idea, and full credit to those politicians who opposed it. And now the government comes back for more, and its reasons fall apart the moment you look at them, as usual with any of NuLab's stunts.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately alex deane it is far more common for the police to abuse and misapply such powers than it is for them to show restraint. I give you the case of the people given criminal convictions for reading out the names of Iraq war dead at the Cenotaph; of the anti-arms deomstrators at ExCel arrested as "terrorists"; of Wolfgang whatsisface, 80ish wear veteran arrested and manhandled at a Liebour conference for heckling; and the May Day protestors unlawfully imprisoned by the police at Oxford Circus so they couldn't get to their demo. Each and every one of these Soviet-style repressions - of speech, of association, of movement - was facilitated by Liebour anti-terrorism laws, and each was contrived by the police abusing them.

Old BE said...

Parliament's job is to protect our freedoms and liberties.

Anonymous said...

Alex, yes but where does it stop? Should we give the police total power over our lives 'just in case', crossing our fingers that most of the Force will behave with sense and discretion?

We have already had a judge suggesting a universal DNA base - of course it would help the police, but would it not further Statist control and the extinguishing of the individual?

How about microchipping the entire population and of course visitors? Well, why would you object if you are innocent and have nothing to fear - and it would potentially be such a help in the 'war against terrorism'.

Alex said...

The police's logic is very poor. Their argument is that by extending the detention period from 28 days to 90 days we will reduce the number of terrorist incidents. How many sleeper cells are going to be put off by an extra 32 or 62 days. The reality is that if people are perceived to be a threat but no case can be proven, then they will probably continue to be after a 60 day or 90 day detention period. The police have not shown a single case where they were forced to release a suspect before a case was made or rejected, and equally they have yet to demonstrate a single case where a suspect committed an offence within 90 days of being released from detention.

The argument that "it could happen" is little better than pre-emptive assassination of the entire population to stop all future crime.

It is far better to live in liberty with some risk of terrorist attack than to live in a police state.

Unsworth said...

Good Grief, 'non-exercise' but adoption of appallingly draconian further powers is being advocated. I wonder how Alex Deane feels about 'non-exercise' but statutory revival of traditional Tyburn slaughter - just in case it might be 'needed'.

If, as our servant, the State adopts powers - any powers - we, the people, must also have categoric assurances that those exercising them will be properly subject to Parliamentary control, are capable, and are completely answerable in law.

The crazed, paranoid and power hungry Ian Blair has shown himself to be completely incapable of balanced and rational thought. Are we to hand over our liberties to such a man and his unelected successors?

Then again, when one examines the public utterings and actions of most of ACPO one should be seriously concerned. These 'public servants' are simply careerists. Most lack judgement, ability and intellect. Rather than blindly handing over huge powers and monies to them we should be asking why they cannot apparently use the plethora of legislation which is already in the Statutes.

There is a standard response to any 'unexpected' event on the part of New Labour, and that is to call for yet more laws. No-one, it seems, is prepared to question what is wrong with existing legislation nor to ask why it is that these people have actually failed in their jobs and hold them properly to account.

State interference escalates. Three thousand pieces of new legislation in ten years have done absolutely nothing to reduce crime or in any way enhance our lives. What should worry everyone is the relentless criminalisation of society through ill-considered and poorly executed laws.

In the past decade not a single piece of legislation has been withdrawn or rescinded. How difficult and unnecessarily complex do politicians want to make our lives? And how wealthy do they want to make themselves at our expense?

If the Conservatives have any sense at all they'll be right now drawing up a list of laws they intend to repeal in their first year of government.

Old BE said...

The only solution to this problem is for everyone to have CCTV in their house and for Big Brother to monitor it 24/7 - that way those making bombs in their garage can be stopped before they buy the ingredients. Once this is introduced we can all feel safe and secure. This will tie in with HMG's exercise hour, healthy eating and alcohol and drug abuse targets.

Mark said...

The police argue that more than 28 days are required in order to complete their investigations. Why has no-one to my knowledge suggested that these investigations are resource-limited rather than time-limited? If the job could be done in the available time by, for example, doubling the number of coppers assigned to it, then the argument becomes clearer: we are selling civil liberties for a known price in police salaries. Does that price match the market rate for fundamental rights?

Anonymous said...

Ed, you are clearly a pinko subversive who should not be allowed out on the streets.

Obviously the best way to protect the public is to lock them all up.

This would avoid the need for summary execution of wrongdoers as they won't be around to cause any trouble.

Alex's suggestion of pre-emptive execution would also work, but then there would be no one left to control.

Anonymous said...

Heaven forfend that the police should be given the powers they need to keep us safe.

Let's do away with DNA and fingerprinting as well. Then we'll really have the police service we deserve. Hamstrung.

Unsworth said...

Anon 12:27

One has to admire your blind acceptance that the cops 'need' this outrageous legislation. When did they ever 'need' it? All they 'need' to do is get off their fat well-paid backsides and stop bitching and moaning about 'lack of' resources and legislation. Let them put up a single instance where this 'need' proved essential. Even the cretinous Jacqui Smith admitted that there have been none.

But you can bet that every time they fall down on the job it'll be blamed on those who have not acceded to their slightest whim and fancy. I'm really pig sick of the kind of garbage routinely trotted out by the (anonymous) cops and their supporters as 'fact' in justification for their own incompetencies.

And we certainly have not got the police force we deserve - or pay for - for that matter. They could and should do a whole lot better than this.

Mountjoy said...

My understanding was that it takes 28 days for the police to fill in the paperwork so they need more time :-)

Old BE said...

12.27 I think you will find that the Police are more hamstrung by not being allowed to climb ladders without going on a two day course.

Anonymous said...

Instead of introducing it drip by drip we should just go the whole hog and introduce indeffinite detention without trial or evidence, this is part of the Napoleonic code (EUSSR) and McLabour are simply trying to impliment this drip by drip, simply following orders from their masters in Brussels.

As is every single thing McLabour do without exception, Its all about converting England to the EUropean way of doing things, this will make our complete takeover by the EUSSR musch smoother, conversion for foreign rule, this would have been called treason once, but now it cant even knock Ant & Dec off the TV "News".

Anonymous said...

This proves that the police can make a case if they need to.
More than 28 days would give them an excuse to slow down - leading to a huge increase in costs and innocent people being banged up longer than necessary.Why do things in 28 days when you can take 90? Who would?

Thomas Gordon said...


A great post

Having just come back from living in the Netherlands, I find the whole debate regarding terrorism and security quite backward to say the least. It seems that British Society (including the Political elite) as a whole has not yet grappled with base principles:

-How does an open society deal with elements that are actively hostile to the established way of life and rule of law (the relationship between each other and between us and Government)?

-What balance should there be between individual rights and responsibilities?

-How do we aid the Police and Security Services to carry out their work without abuse any of power?

-Which is more important- social cohesion or individual rights?

Ed says its “Parliament's job is to protect our freedoms and liberties.” .This sounds like “passing the buck” and absolving themselves of their responsibility, because its everybody’s responsibility to ensure democracy is upheld. Sir Ian Blair said a couple of years ago “What type of police service do we want” yet nobody seems to answer that question in any meaningful way.

Where is the rational debate? Does anybody in the “Little Britain” actually understand the threat we face? Do we fully understand the consequences of modern technology, radical thinking (be it extreme left, right or a religiously inspired ideology) and violent action has on society as a whole?

To put it even more brutally do we comprehend the fact that somebody with Sixth Form Chemistry can make crude biological/chemical weapons and release it on a packed commuter train going to London?

Aum Shinrikyo understood this in Tokyo when they released home made Sarin. Islamic insurgents understand this with jerry rigged Chlorine Bombs in Iraq and other groups hostile to our way of life understand this to, perhaps they might even be working in the NHS…

Can we be so complacent regarding the ‘new reality’? The Dutch Intelligence Services released public papers on the destabilizing threat of Radical Islam within Dutch Society (which can be found on my blog)-has MI5 done the same?

The UK has the lowest participation in the democratic process in Western Europe, lower than even Iraq, yet we crow on about living in a ‘police state’. Who allows that to happen? Those who are engaged politically usually do so from a tub-thumping, tribal, dogmatic point of view from the prism of a self important media that can barely report beyond its shores, and when it does it is through a narrow minded viewpoint, making the ‘British’ even more ignorant of the outside world (far more than even America).

If ID cards, CCTV, extra security and the extension of the 28 day questioning won’t work then what will work?Do those critical of the powers 'that be' have any better suggestions-whould 'not doing something' lead to even more draconian powers later?

Little Black Sambo said...

We are now all breaking several laws at any given time, because there are so many of them that we can't know what they are. It keeps those who are law-abiding by nature in a state of docile unease, and the authorities can twitch our chains at any moment to remind us of our servile state. Your papers, please? THE EU, DAMN AND BLAST IT TO HELL.

Roger Thornhill said...

I am quite sure the Government thinks every law it introduces and every power it grants the police is nothing more than proportionately draconian.