Moving on from 28 days?


by Sunny
26th July, 2007 at 8:29 am    

So, Gordon Brown has decided 28 days internment in prison without trial is “not an option” any more. The Guardian lists four choices on offer in his consultation. But if the PM wants to push forward with an extension, he should provide the evidence to support it, no? The BBC quotes critics:

Amnesty International’s Nicola Duckworth said locking people up for 56 days without charge “amounted to internment” which had “devastating consequences” in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. And Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said it would act as a “terrorist recruiter’s dream”.

At the Our Kingdom blog, Anthony thinks 28 days is enough. On the Demos blog, Charlie points out that Gordon Brown had already made many of these recommendations last week:

Today the Conservative Party will publish their national and international security policy paper. Brown’s sharp piece of political maneuvering will leave Cameron and his national security adviser Pauline Neville Jones only a few recommendations to choose from.

Gordon Brown has also signalled his support for ID cards. Bummer. As Tim Worstall rightly says, this is how we lose our liberties.


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  1. University Update - Gordon Brown - Moving on from 28 days?

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  1. Chris Paul — on 26th July, 2007 at 9:59 am  

    Being opposed to 56 days and also possibly more aware of internment and the erstwhile struggle in the six counties I must say I find the hyperbole of comparing this unwelcome proposal with the internment of 30 years ago is baffling.

    It is surely a sign of our progress over the last 40 years that we have not got anything like that internment?

    (Mother’s cousin gunned down by soldiers, uncle and cousin hospitalised with baton rounds, little brother barred from NI)

  2. AsifB — on 26th July, 2007 at 10:31 am  

    Chris Paul I agree, the police and state are more sensitive than they used to be.

    But if Brown does not think that 28 days sounds suitably draconioan, I think Liberty is right to resist (even if much of the media ‘debate’ does seem more about spin and hogging the headlines so that the govt. can be seen to be busy.)

  3. sonia — on 26th July, 2007 at 10:31 am  

    ha no suprises there, flexing his muscle, doesn’t want to be seen ‘weak’ compared to tony. we’ll be wanting tony back at this rate, which just goes to show how f***ed up this all is.

  4. Leon — on 26th July, 2007 at 10:58 am  

    ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ is what I think when I read things like this…

  5. Kismet Hardy — on 26th July, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

    You saw what happens to people 28 Days Later

    They turn into flesh eating but ultimately slow zombies

  6. El Cid — on 26th July, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    It is troubling, true.
    However, just wondering whether liberal attitudes would have been different if those recent bombs HAD gone off.

  7. Katy Newton — on 26th July, 2007 at 12:58 pm  

    Was anyone seriously expecting Gordon Brown to be any different? Really?

  8. David Boothroyd — on 26th July, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

    This isn’t internment by any stretch. Internment is indefinite detention. What this is, is a lengthy but definite detention of a suspect while investigations are carried out.

    The common reason why internment failed in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and in the UK during the Second World War was that the information used to justify it was out of date and inaccurate. This is not the case here, where the whole point of detention is to find whether there is evidence of wrongdoing, and if there is, to bring suspects to trial.

    There was a very good article in ‘Contemporary Review’ last year which pointed out that there is an inevitable balance between absolute civil liberty and the security of the state, and that the very last people to say where the balance should be struck are civil liberties campaigners.

  9. Sunny — on 26th July, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

    that the very last people to say where the balance should be struck are civil liberties campaigners.

    or the police.

  10. Katy Newton — on 26th July, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    Even if every single person that the police detain under this proposed law was a huge security risk, the government still needs to demonstrate that the increase from 28 days to 58 or whatever it is is necessary, and they haven’t. Look at what Tim Worstall said.

  11. Katy Newton — on 26th July, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    Excellent point, Sunny.

  12. Kismet Hardy — on 26th July, 2007 at 2:47 pm  

    If someone is guilty, you should be able to gather ample evidence to set a court date or bail. If you haven’t found a shred in 28 days, you won’t find a shred in 58. Unless you torture them, perhaps

  13. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 12:33 am  

    It is surely a sign of our progress over the last 40 years that we have not got anything like that internment?

    Depends on your definition of ‘our’. I’d say the active participation of some governments in such behaviour as well as others simply looking the other way as their facilities are used (as is the case with Ireland) on a worldwide scale is if anything a regression; thats without even considering the de facto reclassification of torture as ‘intensive interrogation’.

    As for extending the time limit, as Katy has already asked; what did you expect?

    The erosion of liberty always occurs first amongst the untermensch. The loss of a real right to silence was brought in on the back of irish terrorism. Biometric ID cards will first be used amongst the those evil asylum seekers and immigrants. The use of equipment that has always been considered insufficiently trustworthy in britain (such as polygraphs) has suddenly, apparently, been deemed ok for those damned sex offenders on every street corner. When the recent case of Robert Torto firebombing asian stores was on the news an ever so sincere policeman explained just how important CCTV was in catching him. Because obviously we need to be monitored 24 hours a day incase the hordes of paranoid schizophrenics go…insane.

    The police want their jobs to be easier, the government listens to the police because everyone else hates the government. Every PM will try to protect you from harm by taking away your rights.

  14. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 12:36 am  

    It is troubling, true.
    However, just wondering whether liberal attitudes would have been different if those recent bombs HAD gone off.

    Fairly excellent reasoning. I assume because the bombs failed to go off you agree the extension isn’t needed.

  15. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 12:49 am  

    This is not the case here, where the whole point of detention is to find whether there is evidence of wrongdoing, and if there is, to bring suspects to trial.

    Yes well done, but the police haven’t adequately justified why they need an extension. Even David Davis hasn’t seen any justification for extending the limit.

    …and that the very last people to say where the balance should be struck are civil liberties campaigners.

    Yeah freedom’s a bit like heroin innit; very moreish.

  16. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2007 at 1:03 am  

    “If someone is guilty, you should be able to gather ample evidence to set a court date or bail. If you haven’t found a shred in 28 days, you won’t find a shred in 58.”

    I agree with you. However, I would assume one could extend from 28 days to 58 days if the police found some evidence that, although not enough to convict, could justify the extension.

    I honestly fail to understand why ID cards are so bad. They pretty much exist in a lot of European countries, and it is a convinient way to identify yourself, specially if you don’t have a driver’s license. And 24 hour CCTV makes me feel secure, and I believe a lot of cases (including the failed bombers) have been solved by inspecting hours of footage.

  17. douglas clark — on 27th July, 2007 at 1:19 am  

    Whilst I’d disagree with Kulvinder on nearly everything, I’d agree with him on this. We are sleepwalking here. We have given up on civil liberties in exchange for spurious security. It is a devil’s compact.

    Hell mend us.

  18. The Dude — on 27th July, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    Douglas

    I don’t figure but I do agree. We are being suckered and played and the prize at the end of the long con is kissing goodbye to our civil liberties.

  19. The Dude — on 27th July, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    One other thing. Zombies and martyrs share vital one characteristic. You can’t kill neither.

  20. El Cid — on 27th July, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    Fairly excellent reasoning. I assume because the bombs failed to go off you agree the extension isn’t needed.

    Well I don’t know Kulvinder. Where do you draw the line? Is 28 days detention really that much better than 29, 30?
    Once you get to this stage, the argument becomes more utilitarian — what will give the biggest counterterrorism bang for the smallest civil liberties buck.

    All I do know is that holing people up indefinitely without charge is unacceptable and I remember some top plod saying that recently (maybe he was preparing the ground for this 56 days campaign, softening up opinion, the little tinker).

  21. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 5:41 pm  

    Well I don’t know Kulvinder. Where do you draw the line?

    With extensions granted the police can hold you without charge for a maximum of 96 hours.

    The terrorism act of 2000 gave the police the possibility – with extensions granted – to hold you for seven days without charge. In 2003 the Criminal Justice act increased that period to a fortnight. The Terrorism Act of 2006 further increased that to 28 days. The government and police are now pushing for something in the order of 56-58 days detention without charge.

    I take it you don’t live in the UK anymore so perhaps you aren’t as alarmed by that trend as i am. Suffice it to say the police have never given adequate justification of why they need these escalating periods of detention. The police seem to want a system in place whereby they arrest people more or less at will and hold them indefinitely. The only issue they continually seem to bring up is ‘encryption’ but as far as i can tell they’ve never demonstrated what percentage of computers seized are actually encrypted. The percentage of people charged, let alone convicted under the terrorism act is quite low in relation to the total number arrested.

    The police redrew the ‘line’ from hours, to days, to weeks and now to months.

  22. El Cid — on 27th July, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    Of course I live in da mana’!!!!
    I’m a north London boy through and through and have no plans to leave the big city for a long time yet, unless the waters rise beyond Highbury or worries over my eldest’s secondary education gets too much for me and i move to Enfield or Barnet, or something, but that’s another story.)
    Where you get that from?
    I didn’t say I wasn’t alarmed. My last line should have told you that.
    I just said that drawing a line isn’t so straightforward.
    Well maybe it is — If you are an uber-liberal who believes that police powers should not be increased whatever the circumstances, then 96 hours is probably the max.
    And if you are a fascist, then ‘indefinitely’ is time period of choice.
    But for the rest of us, it’s not that simple.
    My limited understanding of this is that it can take a long time to decipher evidence held on computers and that we are at war with a very dangerous and disparate enemy that would do our society great harm in the name of some absolute ideal, so the risks are greater. As I said, that is my understanding of it.
    Does the case need to be argued better? Perhaps it does. Is it a worrying trend? Yes. Have we crossed the path of no return? No chance.
    This is England after all — where I live.

  23. El Cid — on 27th July, 2007 at 6:03 pm  

    I think our views overlap to a considerable degree

  24. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 6:33 pm  

    To reiterate the police haven’t given specific terrorist related examples of computers being encrypted that needed x amount of days to decrypt. They’ve also never given any definitive assessment of how long they’d need to hold those computers for. It is entirely possible that to all intents and purposes some if not most encryption software used will never be decrypted.

    To put it another way, in terms of computers, the police have never justified why any extension would have any impact on decryption.

  25. El Cid — on 27th July, 2007 at 6:40 pm  

    To reiterate Does the case need to be argued better? Perhaps it does.

  26. Kulvinder — on 27th July, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

    If they can’t come up with definitive examples as it is; its less about making a ‘better case’ and more about making it all up.

  27. El Cid — on 28th July, 2007 at 8:49 am  

    Oh I see Kulvy, now I see the light between us.
    Basically, the state is just a tool of repression.
    It seems you’ve already made your mind up, unlike me.

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