Before I came to the House I practised as a criminal practitioner for about 20 years, both prosecuting and defending. I know that some Members, and some other people in the country, are perhaps not convinced by the civil liberties argument on 28-day detention. They ask why we should provide protection to people who want to commit criminal offences. Instead of the civil liberties perspective, I wish to give a practical one-do we, the police or the law enforcement agencies actually need a 28-day limit?
Members should be aware of the type of evidence that the police gather, especially when monitoring terrorists or people they believe are going to be terrorists. There is intrusive surveillance, with probes in people's homes and cameras outside them. Every single text or e-mail they send is recorded by the intelligence services, who also keep every phone call they make. Are Members really telling me that with all that evidence before them, they still need 28 days to interrogate people in a police station?
As someone who has dealt with anti-terror cases and seen the evidence that comes in, and even taking away the civil liberties argument, I know as a practitioner that law enforcement agents do not need 28 days to interrogate people. They have all the information and evidence before them. As we know, guidance on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allows for various surveillance methods and intrusions to take place.
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