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.