Gordie B on Terrorism

3 Jun

The Observer has the beef: –

· An extension of the 28-day limit on detention without charge. Blair had wanted to extend this to 90 days, but had to limit it to 28 after a Commons revolt.

· Making terrorism an aggravating factor in sentencing, giving judges greater powers to punish terrorism within the framework of the existing criminal law.

· Ending the ban on questioning by police after a terrorist suspect has been charged. This would be subject to judicial oversight to ensure that it is correctly and sparingly used.

· Moving towards allowing evidence from telephone-tapping to be admissible as evidence in court by holding a Privy Council review into whether the law should be changed.

· Increasing the security budget, which has already doubled to more than £2bn a year after 11 September 2001, in the forthcoming spending review when a single security budget will be unveiled.

Some sense in there, I guess. But I completely oppose any extension to detention without charge. If you’re “ending the ban on questioning by police after a terrorist suspect has been charged,” then I don’t see why you would be detaining a suspect if you don’t have enough evidence to charge?

Let’s be straight. 28-days (the current limit) is already a month. Taking a suspect out of the family, or of his or her job, for 4-weeks will make a serious impact. Anymore is likely to not only piss-off the individual (with the possibility of the suspect losing employment), it is also likely to further damage relations between the police and the communities. Extended detention can only be justified if the evidence exists. And if the evidence exists, why not charge?

Giving the authorities summary powers to detain suspects for lengthy periods without charge is dangerous, illiberal, and counterproductive. This is battle of ideas, and one we’re losing.

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