The report stage of the counter-terrorism bill is coming up. This bill would allow pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects for up to 42 days. The current limit is 28 days, already significantly higher than most comparable democracies. No good case has been made for this erosion of civil liberties, and it's time to get writing to your MP. The following went off to my MP today:
I am writing to express my concerns at the proposal in the counter-terrorism bill to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days in certain circumstances. This is a considerable extension to current powers, and for that reason a clear case needs to be made for the necessity of the measure. In my opinion, this has not been done. I note that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken McDonald, and Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, have stated that they see no need for an extension to pre-charge detention. I also note that Lord Dear, the former chief inspector of constabulary, has stated that most chief constables he has spoken to do not think a 42-day detention period is necessary. This raises the question of who exactly does think this provision is necessary.
As I understand them, the proposals would provide for the Home Secretary to make a statement to parliament, and for parliament to vote on an extension to pre-charge detention. However, it is difficult to see how the Home Secretary can come before parliament to discuss individual cases because of the risk of prejudicing them.
The proposals seem to be poorly thought out, unnecessary and unworkable, and I hope you will carefully consider the implications of the proposed legislation for civil liberties before the report stage of the bill.