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Monday, 30 July 2007

Ignore the opinion poll, Mr Cameron - this one's a matter of principle

The most recent yougov poll for the Telegraph gives results, in response to the question '..detain terrorist suspects for as long as police need to carry out their enquiries as long as adequate judicial safeguards are in place', of 74% in favour and only 17% opposed. I think that as with many poll questions, respondents were answering a different question to that asked. I think respondents were answering the question 'given that radical Muslims are the greatest domestic threat today, are you in favour of the police locking as many of them up as possible?'.

Common sense tells us that there is considerable public anger against a situation that allows mainly Pakistani second or third generation immigrants, who have enjoyed all the benefits of a liberal welfare democracy, turning to a primitive and superstitious radicalism alien to our relaxed social philosophy. Having the police rough them up a bit, chuck them in vans and bang them up in bleak cells is a gut reaction.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has found that there is 'no evidence' that extending the detention period beyond 28 days would have any beneficial effect whatsoever. Not one suspect who has been arrested and subsequently released would have been charged had a longer detention period prevailed. So far, 28 days has proved perfectly adequate.

Our real failure is over the admission of email and phone intercept evidence in court. Everyone knows the security services, police and GCHQ are doing it. Such evidence would, contrary to increased detention, actually help to secure charges and convictions. Our failure is nothing more than our traditional Whitehall constipated obsession with 'secrecy', which in the past has covered everything from the number of tea-bags purchased annually by the Ministry of Agriculture to the brand of toilet paper used by the Welsh Office.

Any extension of the 28 day limit is a further creep towards detention without trial. The Scots can do what they like, but this move has no place in our English nation and must be opposed with vigour. It's a matter of principle.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Yes, and I would argue that 28 days is far too long already.