Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism
Carers (Identification and Support)
Theresa May (Home Secretary; Maidenhead, Conservative)
If the hon. Gentleman has some patience and listens to what I am saying, he will hear the signal that I want to give about 28 days. However, he will recognise that, by definition, the fact that I have moved that the order for the 28-day measure be continued for six months means that I am not suggesting that the detention period should change to 14 days today.
I have set out the nature of the threat, and it is important that we recognise its gravity in the debate, but it must be met by taking proportionate action, and the job must be done with proportionate powers. That is why, yesterday, I announced the inclusion of pre-charge detention in my review of counter-terrorism powers, along with control orders, stop-and-search powers, the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, deportations with assurances, and measures to deal with organisations promoting hatred or violence.
I want to make it absolutely clear to the House that I consider the 28-day limit to be a temporary measure, and I want it brought to an end once I have completed my review. Since the power to detain for 28 days was passed by Parliament and came into force in July 2006, 11 people have been held for more than 14 days, eight were charged with terrorist-related offences, and four were found guilty. Of those, six people have been held for between 27 and 28 days, three were charged with terrorist-related offences, and two were found guilty. No suspect has been held for more than 14 days since July 2007. When one considers that in the 12 months ending in December 2009 28 terrorism-related trials were completed, with 93% convictions, including six life sentences, it is clear to me that the power to detain for up to 28 days is not needed routinely for the police to investigate, interrogate and charge terrorist suspects.
The possibility remains that in some extreme circumstances it might be necessary to detain some suspects beyond 14 days, but those circumstances remain rare and extreme, and we need to be sure that the powers are never abused. That is why we need to take time to consider pre-charge detention as part of the review of counter-terrorism powers. Therefore, in moving today's motion, I am asking hon. Members not to support 28 days indefinitely, nor to support 28 days for 12 months, as was envisaged in the Terrorism Act 2006, but to support a renewal for six months while the counter-terrorism review considers how we can reduce the limit.
The draft order that I have laid before the House will come into force on
The review of counter-terrorism powers will, as I said yesterday, be informed by the principles of the coalition Government. Those principles-shared principles-are based on a respect for our ancient civil liberties and individual freedom. There is nothing we take more seriously than our duty to protect the public, but in doing so we will not, as the previous Government did, forget to defend our way of life.