Hearteningly, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has accepted that it shouldn't lock people up forever. Which is nice to know, but as a contribution to the current debate on the length of pre-trial detention for terror suspects, it perhaps leaves something to be desired, and skips over a little history. In response …
Call me an anarchist if you will but I'd like to see serving police officers do just what they're f***ing told and not try to influence the elected* government.
Do people join the police to serve society or to have society serve them?
* That's another story...
I for one, and totally against any extension to the detain without charge. Are the police so incompetent that they cannot get one shred of evidence that someone is up to no good within the already outrageous 28 day limit?
The use of anti "Terrorism" laws are being more widely used for everyday offences where there is clearly no need - anyone remember a certain heckler being ejected from a Labour party conference and then arrested under the "anti terrorism" laws?
We are slowly but surely having every last strip of freedom and democracy eroded in the guise of fighting "terrorism". Yes, we have have some half witted loonies running around creating havoc in this country and around the world - but when HAVEN'T we? Why the sudden need to legislate? Hidden agendas? If you want to fear something, fear the government as they will get you long before Mr Loon.
We all live under a dictatorship, this isn't a democratic country.The only slight democratic difference with other dictators is we get to choose occasionally which dictator we want in.
This should be binned and binned NOW.
I propose a pilot scheme
In the name of science and to show how this is a fundamentally bad idea to allow police to lock people up for 3 months for ineffect no reason, if there was a reason they would be convicted. I propose the advocates get locked up for 3 months and if they are still on for it after that they should probably be sent to a shrink. Police holding cells are not nice.
I dunno why they just don't immediately introduce a police state. It'd save all this farce of 'public consultation' and parliamentary scrutiny'.
"Give us the authorisation for 90 days detention"
"Ooooh, there's 2000 terrorists in Britain. Honest."
What about the bills?
Monthly bills, not the old bill. Once it's realised that I'm not a terrorist and have been detained for 3 months due to the malice of some barely literate plod who just decided that he didn't like the look of me, will they ensure that I get my house and job back?
Miss a few days and your boss will sympathise with the terrible treatment you've had - miss 2-3 months and you'll be replaced. Miss that many rent/mortgage payments and you are bound to get evicted. There's also the problem of explaining that 3 month gap on your CV when you to apply for a new job.
It's about time the police just STFU on this one. There are very good reasons why the legislating side of the justice system and the enforcement side are supposed to be kept separate. Letting them have input into the legislating side of it is like letting me choose my own tax rate - at 25% I sure as hell ain't getting value for money.
@ Jim Booth
Well, you're right and they have even given up with the pretending that some of this stuff is for terrorism purposes.
Questioning after charge looks like it is going to be soooo useful they can't resist applying it to all other areas.
They are getting really lax now, terrorism won't even need to be used as the boogeyman in future. Just watch.
"ACPO accepts that there needs to be a limit to pre-charge detention"
Well, it's nice of them to accept something that has been part of the foundation of British society for EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS. Better late than never?
No, wait. Accept? El Reg is right, acceptance is not the same as believing. Anyone who does not believe in individual liberty is not truly British, and should not be entrusted with power or influence over anything more than a goldfish.
If Ken Jones wants to publicly campaign for an increase in the time the police are allowed to hold innocent people without evidence (remember 'innocent until proven guilty'?) then he should quit the police force and become a political activist.
I do not pay his wages so that he can voice his personal opinions and emotionally blackmail the public into conforming with his unsurprisingly authoritarian moral views.
The way the police supremos have been behaving recently is a complete disgrace and brings shame on the entire force. If Ken Jones was a real professional, then he'd keep his opinions behind closed doors - by all means try and persuade the politicians, but leave persuading the public to the politicians.
Home Secretary on Today programme today
Made interesting listening. Under questioning it appeared she didn't really have a clue on what period of extended detention she wanted to see. Or whether it was more or less than the present period. She didn't deny that in no previous case has it been asserted or suggested that the current period of detention was insufficient. One can of course "envisage" any scenario one likes in which a longer period is required - just as I am free to envisage I shall be having dinner with Paris Hilton tonight. Imagination is not constrained like reality is.
If the Home Secretary cannot square with her conscience playing borg to hidden policy makers, she really should consider her position. It's simply unfair to the electorate for it to appear that policy is not being made by our elected representatives.
There is not need to extend the without charge period. In fact that stupid piece of legislation can be repealed without reducing our safety at all. Existing legislation already covers everything that the ACPO say they want.
They just have to appear before a judge / magistrate and give the reasoning behind wanting to keep Mr / Ms Jihadi locked up without charge for another week.
No THAT is what scares them!
I propose a small riot and converge on the lower house with torch and flame.
But no one ever listens to me.
@ Jim Booth
Are you suggesting that "one shred of evidence that someone is up to no good" Is all the police should need to charge a suspect. That would be even more illiberal that what is being suggested!
we listen to all you self appointed civil-rights watchdogs point fingers and blame as soon as you find out someone they had in custody kills people in a terrorist act.
Just because you're not important enough to be told every little bit of the case file, not trustworthy enough to be allowed to see what evidence or methods of collection were used to bring these folks in, doesn't mean that there isn't a damn good reason to lock these people away.
Lawyers have made sure that no state secrets will survive any trial. Anything that agents have worked hard to uncover, rings of racist jihadist b@stards setting up their mafia-like networks slowly being exposed by undercover operators, will be blown wide and publicly open, so further investigation becomes impossible.
Common sense would tell you that there's more to any story than your drive-by media reports. but there, as here, the "free" media is only free from it's government interference. Nothing says they can't and aren't bought. A prince who owns a set of 747 jets wouldn't have trouble influencing an editor or owning an entire outlet would they?
People need to pull their heads out. If you can be so suicidally paranoid about your own government and businesses, why can't you try to apply that same attitude towards all other nations' government interests and businesses?
Or is it easier to follow the herd and follow the well paid and trendy naysayers who pave the way for their boss's visions at the expense of yours?
Of course they can't lock people up forever! People grow old and die, so it's not forever.
They just want to lock them up until they can take them out in a body bag. That's not forever, it's just... well, next Thursday if the new "data extraction" techniques don't pan out.
Once again our Chief Police Officers are sticking their noses into the political arena and arguing that they need more powers to make their jobs easier.
Of course what they actually mean is they want to reduce *our* rights to such basic liberties as the Presumption of Innocence and Freedom of Speech because those things are so *damned* inconvenient when people use them to protect themselves against Big Brother...
Interesting (in an odd, disquieting sort of way) to hear Jaqui Smith, our esteemed Home Secretary, on Radio 4's 'Today' this morning explaining exactly why this extension to an extension to an extension is needed. Or maybe not - you be the judge, but it sounds to me like she's badly failing to make it up as she goes along.
Enjoyed all of the comments here but I have a question for those of you who object to "the police sticking their noses into the political process". Please tell me one interest group, industry, public service or just plain motivated loony that doesn't try to publicly influence the political process.
Oh and (second question, I know), seeing as the pols have b@ggered the police about for years in an attempt to curry favor with the tax donkeys, why wouldn't the police try to influence the political process?
I heard it, too, and was glad that John Humphrys reminded her that not so very long ago, the period was 7 days! I was hoping he would also remind her of Parkinson's Law, which seems particularly appropriate here (work expands to fill the time available) as it explains why, however long is allowed, it will never be considered enough. Unfortunately, he didn't.
The usual (and oft-spouted) caveat that this only applies to terrorist suspects sounds quite reassuring, until one remembers that 80-year old Walter Wolfgang was ejected from the party conference under exactly those terms. They must *so* wish that that hadn't happened...
What a hypocrit
This guy Jones was on Channel 4 news tonight, bemoaning the fact that the GLC chose to censure Blair the Bastard. After all his lobbying, he had the nerve to say angrily that policing and politics don't mix. I guess he means 'depending on which way the pressure is flowing'. Twat. What is it with coppers? When did you last hear one say "we need less powers". Of course they'll always lobby for more power, which is why they should automatically be discounted when they do.
@John A Blackley
> Please tell me one interest group, industry, public service or just plain motivated loony that doesn't try to publicly influence the political process.
In case you hadn't noticed, the Police are *not* a political organisation.
The UK has, for very good reasons, long had an *independant* judiciary (despite the attempts of various Home Secretaries etc to stick *their* noses into the judicial process, mainly to get themselves some positive headlines)
The job of the Police is to maintain the Queen's Peace and uphold the law. They do not decide what the law is, they do not decide if someone is guilty, they do not sentence prisoners.
The UK legal system is designed to *protect* the innocent. Other countries have tried the "presumed guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent" system where the Secret Police/ Stasi/ KGB etc can pull some poor sod off the street and question them at their leisure until eventually a confession is forced out of them.
Do you think we should copy those examples?
> Just because you're not important enough to be told every little bit of the case file, not trustworthy enough to be allowed to see what evidence or methods of collection were used to bring these folks in, doesn't mean that there isn't a damn good reason to lock these people away.
No, it doesn't. And whilst the basic principle of UK justice is that it must be *seen* to be done, I can appreciate that there may be information or methods that, for security reasons, cannot be divulged in open court and I have no problem with that.
However what I *DO* have a problem with is the seeming lack of oversight or accountability which will be applied to the Police and Security Services when they start using the powers they want to be given.
It isn't enough that when someone's arrest is questioned the response they get is "well we think he's a terrorist" as if that is sufficient to justify their actions.
> is it easier to follow the herd and follow the well paid and trendy naysayers who pave the way for their boss's visions at the expense of yours?
As opposed to the Well Paid Chief Police Officers who want to pave the way for *our* liberties to be removed and make their vision the applicable one at the expense of our freedoms?
FYI I make up my own mind. I don't need anyone else to tell me what my opinion should be. Do you?
>>we listen to all you self appointed civil-rights watchdogs point fingers and blame as soon as you find out someone they had in custody kills people in a terrorist act.<<
There's a few drunken drivers doing time who were arrested more than once before they killed somebody. Fact is, if we are going to start locking people up for what we think they might do based on their past record, we are going to need an awful lot more prisons. Which brings us to ...
>>Just because you're not important enough to be told every little bit of the case file, not trustworthy enough to be allowed to see what evidence or methods of collection were used to bring these folks in, doesn't mean that there isn't a damn good reason to lock these people away.<<
Well, that's the point, isn't it? We don't know if there is a damn good reason if no-one is telling us. Remember weapons of mass destruction and forest gate? Damn good reasons that, er, weren't. Do you really think that the government or intelligence services never cock up? They are human, and being human, would certainly be tempted to bury their mistakes under the name of national security if they could.
That's why arrests and the reasons for them need to be scrutinized, particularly given the 'arrest anyone who looks like a threat' mentality of the police - who know they WILL be blamed when the next terrorist strike comes, despite the fact that this is almost impossible to prevent.
The only protection we have against the police doing their job too enthusiastically is an open and free process of government. Following any other course of action, I respectfully submit, requires a degree of innocent credulity which the British government just has not earned.
It's certainly possible that decisions are made based on information we don't know about, but as I said in the article it seems odd that any such information never results in convictions beyond the primary offender and their immediate circles.
It also seems significant to me that so much of what we do get to hear about is demonstrably faulty. The police briefings to the press at the time of the Forest Gate raid for example described a device that was clearly impossible, the claims for the capabilities of the 21 July bombs were quite obviously skewed (as built, they could not have gone off, finish), and the limo bomb and liquid bombs were clearly ridiculous.
So if what I do see is guff, what do I deduce about what I don't see?
And some are even SMARTer than they Think, with just a little bit of XXXXtra Thought.
"Or is it easier to follow the herd and follow the well paid and trendy naysayers who pave the way for their boss's visions at the expense of yours?"
Any boss, whether SMART or not as SMART as he thinks, can see a better Vision and there will be not expense spared to pave ITs Way for it is a Valuable Inward Investment Spreading a Global Message.
Of course you can't lock people up forever.
It stands to reason, they'll die long before forever rolls around.
Don't worry about all these civil rights; if there is something seriously adrift in the mental seas of our noble leaders, they will surely eventually end up aiming paranoia at their colleagues. Once suspicion and distrust abound at that heady level it will be no time at all before we're all in the grip of a cozy civil war.
On Sunday the politicians and representatives of ACPO will attend ceremonies to "honour" those who died defending us from exactly the kind of police and state powers that they are now introducing here.
"...police - who know they WILL be blamed when the next terrorist strike comes, despite the fact that this is almost impossible to prevent..."
On the whole, I believe that the Police truly and really just want to stop the Bad Guys doing Bad Things to the Deserving Public. But the people who will blame the Police aren't the Deserving Public, they are the Undeserving Media. They're not even people; they're commercial entities. Some of those entities are driven by certain unscruplous people with agendas, even more than they are driven by the pressure to make money for their shareholders (and hence the prurient appetite for sensation that our jaded western decadence develops).
If it wasn't for the strident lackwittery of the red-tops, Governance might be more rational. The individual on the Clapham Omnibus isn't noticeably sociopathic, but society increasingly is.
@ Anonymous Coward (Nov 7th)
<<we listen to all you self appointed civil-rights watchdogs point fingers and blame as soon as you find out someone they had in custody kills people in a terrorist act.>>
If there wasn't enough evidence to charge them, they should be out. Torture (and holding incommunicado for close questioning for months at a time *is* torture) only ever gets the answers the torturer wants. Longer periods of detention probably will make the charge figures look better, but only because innocent people will confess to whatever it is the torturers want to hear.
<<Just because you're not important enough to be told every little bit of the case file, not trustworthy enough to be allowed to see what evidence or methods of collection were used to bring these folks in>>
But I am - I am a citizen of the UK, and there should be no secrets from me. I have an interest in knowing what is being done in my name, and why, when it affects other people's rights, and my ability to assess what my government is doing, unless a proper war is declared.
<<doesn't mean that there isn't a damn good reason to lock these people away.>>
In that case, charge them and put them before a court. The court has powers to protect all sorts of information, so sensitive information can be kept away from the media.
<<Lawyers have made sure that no state secrets will survive any trial. Anything that agents have worked hard to uncover, rings of racist jihadist b@stards setting up their mafia-like networks slowly being exposed by undercover operators, will be blown wide and publicly open, so further investigation becomes impossible.>>
But that is the problem - I only have the word of the police and the security agencies that these people exist. There is nothing that I can reliably call independent evidence (and I am a university researcher - I know how to read reports) that there is any risk to me or anyone else that is bigger or more likely than it was before the Twin Towers (which wasn't even in the UK!!). I lived through the Irish situation, where there was a known and significant risk to the public, with far more information available than there is now. However, on the topic of Ireland, the disgraceful practice of internment seems to be a hint at where some people would like us to be heading.
<<Common sense would tell you that there's more to any story than your drive-by media reports. but there, as here, the "free" media is only free from it's government interference. Nothing says they can't and aren't bought. A prince who owns a set of 747 jets wouldn't have trouble influencing an editor or owning an entire outlet would they?>>
Common sense means nothing to me - it is common sense that the Earth is flat. Give me evidence, and give me a *proportionate* response. Panicking about the influence of 747-owning princes is not helpful.
<<People need to pull their heads out. If you can be so suicidally paranoid about your own government and businesses, why can't you try to apply that same attitude towards all other nations' government interests and businesses?>>
I don't understand what you mean. I *am* paranoid about other countries and their companies, especially those from the USA!
<<Or is it easier to follow the herd and follow the well paid and trendy naysayers who pave the way for their boss's visions at the expense of yours?>>
No-one is considering my point of view exactly *because* they are following their boss's. Freedom comes before policy, and people before government - who in power is saying that?
Fear is a useful thing in the short term. When you start defending otherwise indefensible policies because you are afraid, you are no longer thinking for yourself. In order to analyse a situation, you need reliable data and an open debate. We are not getting that, and fear, as demonstrated in your post, is the driver of all policy. In that case, I trust no-one who is telling me anything.