Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, has said that he thinks there is no evidence in favour of changing the law to allow terrorist suspects to be detained for 90 days without trial rather than the current 28 days. Well great, after all that’s what the government’s own Home Affairs Select Committee report said, although bizarrely it was widely misreported as saying the exact opposite. This is good news because it makes it slightly more likely that when the government tries to introduce 90 day detentions again, it will fail again.
We shouldn’t get too excited about this. He accepts that the extension to 28 days from 14 days was necessary (recent investigations used 27 days of the 28 days, which isn’t something we should accept uncritically as the police had an awfully big incentive for keeping them that long that has nothing to do with their investigation). He also accepts the principle behind the 28 day extension.
In opposing this measure when it comes up again, we should reject the idea that 90 days is necessary because the police claim they need it. We should reject also the idea that 28 days is acceptable because the police have used 28 days. We should reject the idea that it is acceptable to detain people without charge for any longer than a minimal few days based on the exaggerated threat of terrorism. In fact we should reject this idea of detention without trial outright. The state does not and should not manage or control us, it acts on our sufferance.