Civil liberties

This is a holding post and I may return to it tomorrow when I see Hansard.

During the regular efforts at fearmongering the government make regular attempts to persuade MPs and the public that it is an essential requirement that the police be able to detain without charge terrorist suspects for as long as period as possible   Previous attempts to lengthen this period have led to an extension to 28 days.  This is not good enough for the state which wants more, ignoring the history of detention and its failure as a device in combatting terrorism.  On the SKy News blog this evening the following interesting titbit appeared, courtesy of Jonathan Levy,

“[HOme Secretary Jacqui Smith] has just made the remarkable revelation that there’s not yet been a terrorist case, where there’s been a need for detention without charge, beyond the current 28 day limit.

Jacqui Smith went on to explain that the need for an extension (which she supports) is  ‘precautionary’, that it is the police who feel it’s necessary, given their interpretation of the threat.”

Basically then, there is no need for a longer period.  In every case to date there has been no need for a longer period.  However, the police want a longer period so the government believe it should be extended.  Should we accede to every police demand on criminal justice?  It’s no doubt easier to round up the usual suspects, extract confessions via various means (the 1970s culture examined by David Peace in his Red Riding Quartet), but if the police wanted that would we step back from the restrictions on police powers imposed in the early 1980s?

This government of lawyers has a singular disregard for civil liberties.  Stating the causes they support – ID cards, detention without charge, house arrest, the whole SIAC system where the accused are represented by state appointed lawyers who can’t advise the client properly because they don’t know what the charge is, and the evidence is often withheld for reasons of national security, should shame the politicians – and shame us for allowing them to get on with it. The Tories purport to support civil liberties but want to repeal the Human Rights Act incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights.

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in civil liberties, politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Civil liberties

  1. hoiho says:

    Tut! You clearly just fail to see the virtues of British Pragmatism.

    • I will reassess my opinion in the light of a pragmatic analysis. I knew I must be getting something wrong. If the police and the politicians and the tabloids want it, it must be okay 😉

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let me make it clear that I have great respect for the police in the difficult job they do etc etc.
    However, one thing I found maddening about Tony Blair in particular, and new labour in general, was his/their craven acceptance that when the police ask for something they should get it.
    It’s a pretty fundamental principle of a free Parliamentary Democracy that police powers should be severely limited, and one of parliament’s principal functions is to PREVENT the extension of police powers, NOT facilitate them!!
    It is in the nature of police officers to want to lock up more and more people, to bug more and more phone lines, to search more and more persons and properties. The police are always hungry for more powers. We must be vigilant to ensure that they don’t ever get more than the barest minimum.
    In relation to the increased time for detention of terrorist suspects, Blair’s position was as simple/simplistic as possible “The police say they need these powers, so let’s give them what they want” – good grief ! – if it was that easy, your average Chief Constable would be requesting powers to detain practically every ‘undesirable’ (ie people who aren’t police officers)(including bloggers – ie you and me !!)
    Have any of these people ever read 1984?
    Or to quote the sage Fawlty “This is exactly how Nazi Germany started”

    • It’s a pretty fundamental principle of a free Parliamentary Democracy that police powers should be severely limited, and one of parliament’s principal functions is to PREVENT the extension of police powers, NOT facilitate them!!
      hear hear
      It is in the nature of police officers to want to lock up more and more people, to bug more and more phone lines, to search more and more persons and properties. The police are always hungry for more powers. We must be vigilant to ensure that they don’t ever get more than the barest minimum.
      Yep. You put it far more elegantly than me – so I’ll steal that later 😉

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