UK Liberty


Posted in detention without charge, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 17, 2008

The Guardian:

… Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, who yesterday told the News of the World, that British intelligence was pursuing 30 different plots involving the tracking of 2,000 people in 200 networks. But critics pointed out that these figures were no higher than two years ago and did not appear to contain new information.

But but but it’s an ever increasing, ever growing Threat™, much more Threatening Than Anything We Have Ever Faced Before. Ever.

Smith, who is keen to convince wavering Labour backbenchers to vote for the measure, said: “We can’t wait for an attack to succeed and then rush in new powers.

Um, if Smith think that’s what you have to do, she should probably resign right now. If you think the police won’t make any attempt to disrupt a serious terrorist plan they’re aware of, just because they can’t imprison people for 42 days, you’re out of your tiny mind. Seriously.

We’ve got to stay ahead. When we extended the period from 14 to 28 days people said ‘there’s no need for this, it’s not necessary. You’ll never need to use it’. Well, we did.

Well yeah, they use what they are allowed! Does that mean they need it? No.

The number of international investigations is greater than before. Each time a plot is uncovered the terrorists learn and they develop.

“That is why there is a massive increase in the way they are using technology and encrypting evidence. It takes time to get the evidence you need to charge somebody.”

Um, as Austin Mitchell Robert Marshall-Andrews MP pointed out t’other day, you can put people away for not giving you the key to their encrypted files under part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000… again, as Home Secretary, if she doesn’t know this she should probably think about resigning…

Here’s how good the ‘safeguards’ are:

Under the proposals, which have been revised to include some safeguards [doesn’t say what!], the home secretary would be able to immediately extend the limit to 42 days if a joint report by a chief constable and the director of public prosecutions backed the move.

The Commons and the Lords would have to approve the extension within 30 days and if either house voted against it, the power would come to an end at midnight on the day of the debate.

The new limit would only be available to police for two months unless it was renewed, and individual detentions over 28 days would need to be approved by a judge at least every seven days.

However, the way the proposed system is set up could mean suspects being held for 42 days even if parliament eventually refused permission.


David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “This policy is friendless even among members of the cabinet. It is a sign of desperation that the home secretary is citing as ‘new’ evidence details given in a speech by the head of MI5 five months ago. In fact, Jonathan Evans did not even mention pre-charge detention when setting out the counter-terrorism challenges we face – either in public or private briefings.”

Government support among backbenchers appears to be ebbing away – with even some former Blair loyalist MPs, who supported the government over 90-day detention, now deciding to vote against Brown. They will be joining campaigners such as former cabinet minister Frank Dobson, and backbencher, David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, who have always opposed the measure. The only success Labour whips appear to have had is to persuade the Democratic Unionist party, which voted against 90-day detention last time, to possibly abstain or vote with the government.