So much for announcing matters of importance to parliament and not to the media. Jacqui Smith strikes again. In an attempt to push out as much policy as possible to take the media's attention away from Labour's current woes, they have gone back on a promise made only weeks ago. Nick Robinson is one journalist who is not falling for it. Jacqui Smith told the media this morning of her plans to extend the 28 day detention limit to 42 days. Why 42 days? Well some believe that Jacqui is so desperate to raise the limit that she has lowered her previous wish of 56 days in the hope that she will gain support from the Labour back benches.
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said:
“The Home Secretary’s abrupt announcement wastes so much goodwill and months of so-called consensus building on national security. There is no evidence to extend beyond what is already the longest period in the Western world. The Government risks alienating backbenchers, opposition parties and Liberty with this political gesture.” Flaws in the anticipated Government proposal to extend pre-charge detention include:
● powers for the Home Secretary to extend pre-charge detention in individual cases beyond 28 days without any evidence of a genuine emergency situation.
● weak Parliamentary oversight as MPs are not allowed to vote when powers are activated.
● inadequate judicial oversight, as the courts will not be able to review the decision to extend pre-charge detention.
You can read the full press release from Liberty by clicking HERE.
It is interesting to note that the police have never needed to go beyond the 28 day limit.