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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Monday, 16 July 2007

As long as necessary.

Well no-one can say that Ken Jones wants to hide his light under a bushel. The new head of the Association of Chief Police officers has recently called for the pre-charge limit of terrorist suspects to be increased, but this time with seemingly no upper limit. To call for an increase in the pre-charge limit is now a standard rights of passage for all senior policemen, especially when they want either a pay rise or a knighthood. Ken Jones has wasted no time in pleasing his new boss Gordon Brown by publicly saying that he wants to be able to hold onto terrorist suspects for "as long as necessary". This actually goes further than his predecessor, Andy "well Menezes looked like a terrorist" Hayman, who at least only campaigned to intern potentially innocent people for 3 months. Ken Jones wants the police to have the power to detain people indefinitely until "they have all the proof needed to carry out effective prosecutions in court." Presumably this "proof" means a signed confession, which they will of course get from anyone - innocent or guilty - after they've been locked up without charge in solitary confinement for a few months. Even Ken Jones would admit to cutting Diana's brakes if you banged him up for long enough.

There is a mountain of evidence that shows that the longer you hold someone without charge the more likely they are to confess to something that they haven't done. Presumably this is why the police are pushing for these powers, as it will push up their conviction rate. Ken Jones has admitted that there still hasn't been a single case where the current 28 day limit has been needed, but still wants to introduce interment, just with a different name. When challenged Jones said that "he didn't want the British equivalent of Guantanamo Bay", but being able to hold people indefinitely without charge is exactly what The Americans do in Guantanamo Bay. Jones has said that the new powers would be subject to "Judicial Oversight", but again there is apparently judicial oversight in Guantanamo Bay, but it doesn't seem to stop innocent people getting locked up there and regular suicide attempts.

His call for an increase in the pre-charge limit echoes Gordon Brown's tough rhetoric on the subject. It is also has provoked a very hostile reaction from the Muslim community, which is exactly the part of the population you want to keep on side if you want people to come forward with intelligence to fight a serious terrorist threat. There was a hope that when Gordon Brown assumed the throne that senior police officers would stop playing politics with the terrorist threat which is desperately counterproductive, but it seems that senior police officers and New Labour are going right back to their old tricks.

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