It is only a small part of Britain’s new anti-terrorism laws, but the sentence that mentions 42 days of detention without charge had been a problem from the start. Compare that with a maximum of two days held without charge in the US and 12 in Australia, for example. Even some within the police voiced their doubts.
The Deputy Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Rob Beckley, said: “It would be wrong to think that there is a uniform professional view within the police service on that. I, and I know other chief officers, do not see the necessity of 42 days.”
At the moment, the number of days a terrorism suspect can be held without charge in the UK is 28. The government came up with strict guidelines on when that can be extended. Also, if no charges are brought, the suspect will receive a fixed payment (3,700 euros) for every day held beyond 28 days.
The new laws came in response to the London bombings in July 2005, which left 52 commuters dead and more than 700 injured.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has had to tread carefully on the issue, conscious of the fact that Tony Blair was weakened when he failed in 2005 to extend detention without charge to 90 days.