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Repeal 28 day detention

Comment 18th July 2010

I've never heard a proper argument for why we need extended detention. We should not forget that someone detained for almost a month and then released is likely to find they've lost their job, possibly their home if there's been no-one else able to pay the rent on their behalf and other serious consequences that wouldn't happen if they were only detained for 48 hours.

I don’t see why the suspect can’t be arrested based on whatever evidence there is to justify an arrest, have his house searched and after a day or two’s questioning, allowed to go home if no evidence to charge him has been found. This doesn’t prevent the police searching other locations, examining evidence, etc and re-arresting the suspect if new evidence justifies it. Even if it’s felt necessary to conduct extensive forensic tests on the suspect’s house which may take, say a week, the suspect could still be released and allowed to stay with friends or relatives (providing they’re not suspects and having their properties searched of course).

As I’ve said before, the only logical reason I can see for extended detention is for extensive and intensive questioning/interrogation to try and get the suspect to crack and I’m not aware that this has been shown to be productive enough to justify it. If there is evidence that this works, it should be produced and the authorities should be honest and say this is why they want it, and we can then decide whether we want to allow them to be able to interrogate people in this way for a month.

The legislation also allows them to question the suspect without a lawyer for up to 48 hours, which was intended apparently to allow them to find out about any imminent threats without being constrained by having to wait for the suspect's lawyer to arrive, which might be fair enough. But surely once the lawyer has arrived, they shouldn't be excluded. And if they were to use specially-approved lawyers, similar to those used for SIAC hearings, who are probably based in London, they may even be able to be at the station before the suspect, so there would be no need to question the suspect without the protection of them having a lawyer present.

There’s at least one case where this provision has been abused: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7773727.stm

Why does this matter?

Because 28 day detention causes serious problems for those subsequently released without charge and no logical argument has been put forward to justify allowing the police to detain people for this long.

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