28 Day Terrorism Detentions to End


The government is to scrap the police’s power to hold individuals suspected of terrorism offences for 28 days. The 28 day period is the longest in the western world but as yet there is no confirmed reduction as to the maximum amount of time that will replace it. The previous Labour government was criticized substantially by civil liberties groups for introducing the law, but defended the decision on the basis that it was necessary because of the increased threat to global security.
Ministers are considering whether to halve the period to 14 days, with police having the ability to bail subjects during the second 14 days. Currently the police have no such power to bail a suspect during the 28 days and can only decide during that period whether to charge or release the detainee.

The decision will not be taken lightly, however. Opponents are warning that it could mean that dangerous individuals could be released before the police have had a proper opportunity to question them about their suspicions. Another potential alternative is the reduction of the maximum period to 21 days, on the basis that in the last four years there has not been a single case in which a person had been held beyond this period of time.
The maximum period has changed dramatically in the last decade. Before 2000, terrorist suspects could only be held for 24 hours – the same as other suspected criminals. This was increased to 7 days in the 2000 Terrorism Act, and to 14 days under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The 2006 Terrorism Act raised the limit to 28 days. The Labour government considered 42 days, 56 days and 90 days but was unable to pass any of these proposals into law.

Share this article