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Repeal Section 2 A of the Criminal Justice Act 1987

Comment 1st July 2010

The Government should repeal section 2A of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. They should also conduct a brief enquiry into its use to date to see what effect, if any, it has had on crime prevention. They should also review all cases of people imprisoned under this section to see if anyone has been jailed for failing to answer a question when the question turns out not to be related to any crime.

Why does this matter?

Section 2A of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 makes it a crime not to answer a question in an interview if the interview is conducted under section 2 powers. This can lead to serious risk of injustice for the following reasons.

1) A suspect does not necesarily know what he is suspected of when interviewed.

2) The suspect can be denied legal representation.

3) The question the suspect "refuses" to answer may not be conected to any suspected crime.

4) There are no provisions for a suspect does not legitimatly know the answer to a question.

Therefore it is possible to be jailed under this part if you are a suspect for a crime of which you know nothing and can not answer a question about something entirly unconected to it.

One potential example is a suspect interviewed by the SFO and is presented with a pile of documents and cautioned that if he refuses to answer a question he will go to jail. The documents could be about something entirly unconected and the suspect could of course be entirly inocent. This is a licence for the SFO to go on fishing expeditions, tyranise inocent suspects and even jail inocent people for failing to answer questions about irrelevant documents. This power is draconian puts too much power into teh hands of Government officials, has not check or balance and is not justified by any efficasy in fighting crime. It should be repealed.


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