Yesterday, Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee that there hasn’t been a terrorist case yet where there was a need for detention without charge beyond the current 28 days!
Yes – well that’s the point I and other Lib Dem colleagues have been making since the Labour proposal for 90 days (to come back again next session) reared its ugly head. Jacqui Smith’s admission is at least a step forward from the previous attempts to provide “examples” of when 90 days detention would have been useful – examples which fell apart when examined closely (see, for example, my previous blog posting about one of the debates in Parliament on detention without trial).
As I have said, time and time and time again – if the police can show me evidence that a further extension is necessary – then am not immutable. But the whole point is the balance between security and liberty – and if the police are simply wanting more time to make their life easier – then that is exactly when Parliament has to stand up on behalf of people and say no – because it isn’t a cost-free policy.
Longer detention without trial means some innocent people will be locked up for longer – and will also rack up more costs that we end up having to pay. So it should only be introduced if there is a good reason.
A great article regarding the detention of terror suspects in the United Kingdom. Having analysed all ACPO’s material and statements, I certainly agree that terror suspects need to be held as long as is “proportionate and necessary”, as asserted by ACPO. However, it would be appalling if there was any call for indeterminate detention for terror suspects. However, we must ensure that our anti-terror laws do not discriminate or criminalise certain groups when implementing these laws. Even Britain’s most senior Asian officer, Tarique Ghaffur, came out claiming that certain police practices tend to be based more on ‘physical appearance than being intelligence-led’. I therefore think our laws need to both take into consideration whether there would be any detrimental impact on community relations, but also offer proportionate time to police to bring suspects to justice. Having engaged with a wide spectrum of Muslim opinion myself, many Muslims felt the extention could only be justified if evidence was produced to the High Court to suggest there is strong evidence to link suspects to acts of terrorism. The Muslim community as any other ethnic or faith group want to feel protected and therefore they would support their Government and police to combat extremism and bring terror suspects to justice.One important aspect of improving our terror laws is to conduct a judicial public inquiry into previous terror attacks and see what lessons could be learnt and investigate the reason that leads to the radicalisation of young people. For instance, the terrorist of 7/7 and 9/11 stated in their videos publicised around the world, they were angry and frustration at the international global issues affecting Muslims and non-Muslims alike. For instance, Sadique Khan, one of the perpetrators of 7/7 claimed he felt angered by our intervention in Iraq and Palestine. These are issues relating possibly, one can only argue, to our Foreign policy. Maybe a public inquiry would allow us to find out what causes terrorism and then attempt to defeat it. I would further argue that, as some senior police officers have asserted, “simplistic” anti-western messages of extremist organisations, advocating closed and hostile views of other religions, could be attractive to vulnerable young people. I therefore feel this could be addressed and we can see what can be done to combat extremism before it leads young people to commit criminal and barbaric attacks. To conclude, I certainly support the need to provide police proportionate and necessary time, if this means extension of the 28 day detention to be increased to 90 days. However, during this period, evidence should be produced in front of a judge to decide whether there are appropriate grounds to warrant an extension. Additionally, we must ensure that our anti-terror laws do not lead to the criminalisation or exclusion of certain ethnic or Muslim communities. As we need the support of all our communities in order to combat the very threat of global extremism and terrorism. Furthermore, by the criminalisation of young people from a certain community may lead them to adopt more hostile and extreme messages of anti-western nature which we are attempting to tackle as a country. Let us win the hearts and minds of our young people. We should also support the call by 7/7 victims for a judicial public inquiry, these were our citizens maimed on the day and therefore we should respect their wishes as British subjects by holding a public inquiry in the memory of those that lost their lives. Of course, including those that survived. ThanksMash