Clarity on extent of 42 day detention
Q1 Is it correct that it will be within the Secretary of State’s power to make the reserve power available in relation to any investigation of a terrorism offence or offence with a terrorism connection which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment?
After making the order, the Home Secretary must be in a position to state that she is satisfied there is a grave exceptional terrorist threat and that the power is needed to investigate that threat and bring those responsible to justice. It is in that context that the power is made exercisable and the order may only be made available if there is a report as required under the proposed new clause 22 from the DPP/police. This can only be made in relation to persons being questioned for a serious terrorist offence). The reserve power could not, therefore be made available simply because the police were investigating a terrorism offence that carries a sentence of life imprisonment. For example, it could not be used in relation to an investigation into a plot to kidnap and maim a group of people because this would not constitute serious loss of human life or serious damage to human welfare or the security of the UK.
However it is correct that once the order is in force it is available in relation to those suspected of the commission of a serious terrorist offence. It is not practical to limit the operation of the power to those suspected of involvement in a specific terrorist threat. In a fast-moving situation, multiple conspiracies or other threats could be revealed and it would be impractical in those circumstances to be required to make multiple, possibly overlapping, orders. The order will in any event expire after 30 days and then only if it has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament within seven days of the order being laid before Parliament.