Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has joined Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti in condemning a police chief’s call for "as long as it takes" detention of terror suspects. The head of the Association of Police Chief Officers Ken Jones told The Observer the head of the Association of Police Chief Officers:
"We are now arguing for judicially supervised detention for as long as it takes. We are up against the buffers on the 28-day limit. We understand people will be concerned and nervous, but we need to create a system with sufficient judicial checks and balances which holds people, but no longer than a day [more than] necessary. We need to go there [unlimited detention] and I think that politicians of all parties and the public have great faith in the judiciary to make sure that’s used in the most proportionate way possible."
Ms Chakrabarti said that Jones was campaigning for internment. Mr Davis was also vigorous in his opposition to the ACPO intervention:
“All the evidence shows that when the police tried to claim the need for 90 day detention without charge they were wrong and parliament’s decision on 28 days was right. If 90 days was wrong, indefinite detention is even more wrong. The argument that this should be under judicial supervision is facile in the extreme. The current 28 day limit is already under judicial supervision. What is more, since the 28 day limit was introduced neither the police or security services have produced one shred of evidence to demonstrate the need for extension, either in public or in confidential briefings.”
Matthew d’Ancona is unwilling to attack Ken Jones’ intervention. Over at The Spectator blog he writes:
"It is clear beyond doubt that many modern terrorist cases involve forensic problems of unprecedented complexity – codes, languages, international connections – and that the police will increasingly require longer than they used to in order to sift through the evidence. It will not always be possible to charge a detainee. So why not make it possible for the police to continue detention indefinitely, but only if they can persuade a judge that it is necessary to ensure public safety?"
Gordon Brown will have the backing of the bulk of his parliamentary party if he chooses to legislate for a longer period of detention without trial. Most Tory MPs do not see the need for any change.