Terror Detention 'a Distraction'

July 19, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: BBC News


Ministers do not need to change the law on how long terror suspects can be held before being charged, say the Tories.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the 28-day limit should remain and talk of a 90-day limit was "a distraction".

He said ministers had emergency powers to extend it, in a crisis, by 30 days under the Civil Contingencies Act.

Police say they are "up against the buffers" on the current limit, but the Lib Dems and Tories say there is no evidence it needs to be extended.

Attempts to extend the pre-charge detention period from 14 to 90 days ended with Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as prime minister in 2005. Instead it was extended to 28 days.

Alienation threat

The issue was reopened at the weekend when the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Ken Jones, said police needed more flexibility and suspects should be held "for as long as it takes".

But speaking at a Westminster press gallery lunch Mr Davis said any attempt to extend the period to 90 days could alienate Muslims.

He said Parliament made the right move in 2005 by extending the period to 28 days, but the government would be wrong to now demand an extension to 90 days.