Is 28 days detention on the way out?

So suggests Baroness Warsi, Conservative Party chair, in an interview with the Sunday Times:

The little-used but contentious Labour legislation allowing terror suspects to be detained without charge for up to 28 days could also be scrapped. “The question I would ask is this: how many times has 28 days been used?” said Warsi, who also has a cross-Whitehall brief on community issues.

A review could recommend changes in July. “Of course you have got to protect your country. But we have also got some very clear principles of natural justice. We have principles that people should know the charge against them, that we don’t detain for excessive periods without charge,” Warsi said.

It’ll be interesting to see what the review finds, but I’ve been consistently struck at the paucity of examples showing that the original limit needed to be increased to 28 days or more. The police’s evidence for their push for 90 days was extremely weak, involving using cases where people had been voluntarily released by the police ahead of the older 14 day deadline. That was hardly a good basis for arguing that 28, let alone 90, days was necessary.

Perhaps the review will find evidence that 28 days is needed, but it’s certainly a sign of the way traditional progressive politics has been turned on its head that it is a Conservative Cabinet minister talking about scepticism of the police’s demands and the need to look at the evidence. Those with memories of the first years of Tony Blair’s government might even cheekily call this evidence-based policy making…

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  • Correction: Baroness Warsi is Chairman of the Conservative Party – and of course a Minister in the Cabinet; I would presume she has authority to say this on behalf of the Government (unlike various Lib Dem ministers who can’t get used to power, and think Tory-bashing is OK)

  • Martin Land 13th Jun '10 - 7:37pm

    I hope so, Mark, I really do. This is a disgraceful part of the Labour legacy that the coalition needs to deal with.

  • Terry Gilbert 15th Jun '10 - 2:18am

    “various Lib Dem ministers who can’t get used to power, and think Tory-bashing is OK”

    Examples? From where I sit, they seem to be kow-towing!

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