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.