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UK Can Now Hold People Without Charge For 42 Days 650

the_leander writes "Prime Minister Gordon Brown has narrowly won a House of Commons vote on extending the maximum time police can hold terror suspects to 42 days. There is talk of compensation packages available for the falsely accused. The chances of you getting that money however are slim to none, lets not forget, this is the same country that charges prisoners who have been falsely accused for bed and boarding costs."
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UK Can Now Hold People Without Charge For 42 Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:40AM (#23759995)
    Is that 42 in base 13?
  • by Cambo67 ( 932815 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:41AM (#23760003) the Bill in question has only been passed by the House of Commons. It's got to go before the House of Lords yet. Many commentators think it is not going to do too well there.
    • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:53AM (#23760081) the Bill in question has only been passed by the House of Commons. It's got to go before the House of Lords yet. Many commentators think it is not going to do too well there.

      However there are still 315 people who really should be held for 28 days without charge. Are there enough truely patriotic police to do this though.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:55AM (#23760877)

        However there are still 315 people who really should be held for 28 days without charge. Are there enough truely patriotic police to do this though.
        You jest, but I don't think your average MP understands the seriousness of the matter. S/he gets wrongly held for 28 days, then at the end of it they go back to whatever it was they were doing and there's no harm done.

        You or I get held for 28 days - potentially without communication with the outside world, let's not forget that - and when you get out your employer will have given up on you and sought a replacement. Your personnel record will say "Disappeared off the face of the earth one day" - which I'm sure would look just great if an alternate employer contacted them for a reference.

        And if you're asked why you left your job - well, I'd love to see the look on the interviewer's face when you say "I was detained under the Terrorism Act and not allowed to contact anyone, so my employer had to find someone else to do the job" but I don't think it's an answer that would do you any favours.

        Compensation? What compensation? They'll base compensation on the 28 (or 42) days you were detained, not the repercussions. If the repercussions include "having to sell the house because you can no longer afford it because you lost a £40,000 per year job and had to take a £25,000 per year job", that's your problem.
    • by SomethingOrOther ( 521702 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:09AM (#23760603) Homepage

      There is also the fact that this is very likely to be in breach of EU human rights act.

      Even if this does pass the Lords (unlikely), the European Courts will take interest and may very well overturn it. Remember that the British Courts & Parliment are answerable to Europe.

      • by lysse ( 516445 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:45AM (#23761233)
        No, they're not - at least, not according to British law. As far as I'm aware (from a year and a half of a law degree), not even the ECtHR can force the British government to change the law - they can award damages against governments, and their opinion can have the effect of rendering such a law unenforceable, but that's all. Meanwhile, because of the longstanding doctrine of parliamentary supremacy, the British courts are estopped from examining the procedures of Parliament at all, despite HRA 1998; even if they find a law to be morally wrong, the most they can do directly is issue a "declaration of incompatibility" - which the government can counter by simply having a minister stand up in the Commons and say "No it isn't". (In fact, as all bills are required to be since HRA'98, this bill will have been declared by the government to be compatible with the ECHR; the onus will be on someone whose human rights have been damaged by it to prove that no such compatibility exists.)
    • by call-me-kenneth ( 1249496 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:16AM (#23760655)
      As good a point as any to suggest to any UK citizens about to post a rant about the new police state, destruction of civil libs, etc, that you get off your fat arses and join Liberty []? A polite letter to your MP [], believe it or not, does have an effect on them - especially Labour MPs who voted for the bill with majorities of 15% or less.

      Those two things will take you about 20 minutes, and when you've done em you can come back here and rant along with me, with a new-found sense of entitlement and smug self-satisfaction at your personal involvement in the issue. Hey it works for me.

      So, yeah, Labour MPs who voted for this disgraceful attack on fundamental rights we've had since Runnymede ought to be utterly ashamed of themselves; they've revealed that they are unprincipled bunch of spineless tossers, and I think there's a line about weasel's and god's clean air from Blackadder that springs to mind, too. Fuck Brown, and fuck this government, too. I've even crossed a personal rubicon whereby I now think a Tory govt would be preferable, something I never thought I'd say.

      • by Builder ( 103701 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:41AM (#23761617)
        I wrote my MP both before and after this vote pointing out among other things the flagrant abuses of the law already.

        He wrote back on the one before the vote telling me that "for security reasons, we cannot share the information that we have that makes this extension a requiement, but we only have the public's best interests at heart". I don't expect a reply to my letter post vote.

        I also got both of my neighbors to do the same, and they were quite blown away to learn about []

        Nothing changes and until we learn to make a noise in the streets, the politicians won't listen to us.
  • At least... (Score:5, Funny)

    by NoobixCube ( 1133473 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:47AM (#23760031) Journal
    At least the English know not to do something like Guantanamo Bay. They tried that 220 years ago, and created Australia.
  • Obligitory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:48AM (#23760037)
    The answer to life, the universe and everything now includes the number of days the UK can hold you without charges.
  • Remeber This (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd AT inebraska DOT com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:49AM (#23760049) Homepage Journal
    Disclaimer: I have lived a year in the UK, (specifically, Lancaster, England) and have nothing against the people...

    But remember, despite people bitching about the US' policies, we still have among the world's most stringent policies regarding the rights of the accused. I was always shocked by most UK citizens attitudes regarding free speech and the right of the accused. While they, obviously, abhorred the idea of someone being put to the death they saw nothing wrong with imprisoning someone without charges for 30 days.

    At any rate, I'm sorry this happened =/. I had hoped for better from our friends across the pond.
    • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:02AM (#23760127) Journal
      "Guantanamo bay"

      or how about: "Abu Ghraib"

      The US certainly has no moral high ground. They rape, torture, and sexually humiliate *suspected* terrorists, in a foreign land, out of sight of the people because they're so ashamed of what they do in the people's name.

      If (I'm not, but *if*) I was a suspected terrorist, I'd take 42 days maximum in a standard UK jail, held under standard UK law by standard UK law-enforcement over indefinite detainment in a foreign military prison, with no legal status, and denied the right of habeus corpus. I'd prefer to be jailed in the UK rather than tortured and sexually abused by the US military.

      Just saying. I continue to hope that the American people abhor and remove this stain on their countries honour, but it seems to be getting worse, not better.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I keep seeing this argument trotted out, and it really needs to stop. Just because my country has done some ass-backward immoral things lately doesn't mean I cannot frown upon stupid acts occurring elsewhere in the world.

        You talk of Gitmo and Abu Grahib? Excellent. The more people that do, the better. But, I can also read the news about Britain's detaining people, even citizens, for 42 days without charges or their bizarre need to spy on the populace 24/7 and contemplate just how truly screwed up that

  • by NoMaster ( 142776 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:50AM (#23760055) Homepage Journal
    ... where it's currently 6+ years and counting.

    Oh wait, I forgot - they're not being held by the police, and they're not actually in America. My bad.

  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zebslash ( 1107957 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:51AM (#23760061)
    We don't need terrorists anymore, we are doing their job for them. Thanks Gordon.
  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:51AM (#23760063) Journal
    As mentioned above, the bill has to make it through the house of lords yet, and since the Lords are usually the "conscience" of the legal process in the UK (weird, but true), it's highly unlikely to make it.

    And, of course, 42 days in police custody, still with all human-rights privileges and in a standard jail subject to standard civilian law is a significantly better deal than several years in a foreign military jail, with questionable legal status, and subject to military law and "process". I very very much doubt these suspects, held for 42 days maximum, will be tortured and humiliated, either.

    In other words, glass-house-dwellers, throw no stones...

    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomalpha ( 746163 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:17AM (#23760247)

      The tragic thing about all this, is that it won't get through the upper chamber and Gordon Brown knows this. His problem was that losing the vote would show him up as a weak leader, and not in control of his own party. This way he'll get to blame the unelected House of Lords (many of whom he and Tony appointed under their People's Peers programme) for the legislation not being passed. []

      Ironically, we may end up with all the negative effects from such legislation without any of the (supposed) benefits - i.e. actually being able to lock people up. World + dog outside the UK will believe that it's been passed, removing us even further from what little moral high ground we've got left to stand on and eroding UK citizens' perceptions of their own liberty. This is perhaps the first time I've ever said this, but thank god for the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords. Without them, this would already be law.

      Am I simplifying this? Probably, yes. It just seems that regardless of the merits or otherwise of this legislation (and no Slashdot, I'm not arguing in favour of it), getting the vote through the House of Commons was more about saving Brown's arse than actually achieving anything.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hughk ( 248126 )

      The original Prevention of Terrorism Act which allowed for an extension to detention without being charged was originally brought up to tackle acts of terror in the UK (both mainland and Northern Ireland).

      The principle sounded fine. What was not so well known ws that some police used to abuse this to pressurise someone under arrest. This would happen when the police would report a suspicion that firearms were involved with a possibility that they may reach terrorists. The additional time would allow for th

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:52AM (#23760073) Homepage
    To hell with facts, let's just post grossly misrepresented stories. The police *can't* hold terror suspects for 42 days, until this is passed by the House of Lords, which is unlikely to happen.

    I could understand it if /. got similar stories in the US so utterly wrong, for example if some congressman from Bumfuck, Iowa proposed the death penalty for people caught with more than 1g of cannabis, and /. reported it as a huge roundup and mass execution of dope smokers.

    Of course, it's posted by samzenpus, who seems to have a particular dislike of the UK.
  • by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:53AM (#23760075)
    Did they pass the bill for charging prisoners for their Information Retrieval Procedures yet? Is that next week?
  • Tories vs Labor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prakslash ( 681585 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:05AM (#23760141)
    I am not from the UK but what I find interesting is that this bill was opposed by the Tories. The Tories (i.e. the Conservative party) in the UK used to be more like the Republican party in the USA. The Tories were after all the party of Margaret Thatcher - Reagan's best friend.

    Now, the Tories have become the more liberal party like the Dems in the USA and are vehemenetly trying to prevent the degradation of Habeas Corpus principles. The Labor party (which used to be more left-leaning Jimmy Carter type) has turned into a Neocon haven under Blair and Brown.

    • Re:Tories vs Labor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:23AM (#23760295)
      The Tories opposed it because they need contentious issues to argue over, not because they wouldn't do it themselves.

      Note that they also argue against the governments attempts to have private health bosses take over failing hospitals, even though it was the Tories who started the privatisation of publicly owned services in the first place.

      Personally I don't think there's much difference between the Labour Party and the Conservatives any more. That's no big deal, in spite of what whichever one isn't in power says about the others failings, they end up doing almost exactly the same things.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MartinG ( 52587 )
        The Tories opposed it because they need contentious issues to argue over, not because they wouldn't do it themselves.

        If they would do the same themselves, why have they already stated that they would repeal this quickly if they got back into power (which going by current opinion polls is quite likely at the next election)

        The Tories have traditionally been more right wing, but not the authoritarian right. They believe and have generally believed historically in minimal government interference in civil liber
  • not yet it can't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aristolochene ( 997556 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:07AM (#23760159)
    Except, of course, the bill has to get through the Lords. Which it almost certainly won't. Even Lord Goldsmith (ex attorney general, promoted to Lords) is against it.

    Then it has to be voted on again by the Commons - which could be in a few months time. Only then will it become law (ignoring formality royal assent, and possible rare use of Parliament Act).

    Who knows what Brown's ability to force sick MPs into the house to vote, and what deals N. Ireland MPs will insist upon then?

    I honestly think a few months down the line, when it comes to the crunch, the government could loose this, and force a vote of no confidence vote on Brown.

    In any case UK is still a way off from 42 day detention......

  • 42 days (Score:5, Funny)

    by elmartinos ( 228710 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:16AM (#23760235) Homepage
    Looks like the Brits finally have acknowledged that 42 is the answer to everything.
  • And to think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WoollyMittens ( 1065278 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:05AM (#23760571)
    It's been hardly 60 years since millions died fighting for freedom. Does there have to be a genocide every three generations?
  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:58AM (#23760913)
    We keep being told there is overwhelming public support for this but I'm yet to meet anyone who thinks it's a good idea. I'd like to know *exactly* wat the question was the government asked that go such a high support rate. I'm guessing based on previous ones they'e weasled their way with it was "Would you support 42 days if we could guarantee your safety from all future attacks and promise only to detain proper terrorists not innocent people?'
    The question that showed people apparantly supporting the ID card was along the same lines.
  • by lysse ( 516445 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:26AM (#23761099)

    this is the same country that charges prisoners who have been falsely accused for bed and boarding costs

    Er, even the article states that his £252k compensation was reduced, on audit, by £12.5k to cover the cost of keeping him for three years - and that in itself is a sum that works out at about what his SSP entitlement would have been over the period in which he was imprisoned, which is likely far less than the cost of actually imprisoning him (prisons being hellishly expensive to run). In short - he still walked away with £240k compensation. The implication that he somehow had to write a cheque himself is grossly misleading.

    Moreover, the article is from the Daily "Hate" Mail, the newspaper that defines journalistic standards by contradiction; I'd more or less regard anything it prints as false by default, unless corroborated by a reliable source.
  • Breaking news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @08:11AM (#23762259) Homepage Journal
    Shadow home secretary David Davis has resigned as an MP, and will run for re-election on the single issue of fighting the 42 day rule.

    Details still emerging, BBC News has some details []
  • Brazil... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @09:46AM (#23763095) Journal

    here is talk of compensation packages available for the falsely accused.

    SAM: It's a refund... I'm afraid there was a mistake.

    MRS. BUTTLE: Mistake?

    SAM:(encouraged) Yes. Not my department... I'm only records. It seems that Mr. Buttle was overcharged by Information Retrieval. I don't think they usually make mistakes... but, er... I suppose we're all human.

    SAM: Oh... what happened to the...? ...Actually, my bringing this here is rather unorthodox... Usually any payments are made through the central computer... but, er... there were certain difficulties, and rather than cause delay, we thought you might appreciate this now... it being Christmas.

    MRS. BUTTLE: My husband's dead, isn't he?

    SAM: Er... I assure you Mrs. Buttle, the Ministry is always very scrupulous about following up and eradicating error. If you have any complaints which you'd like to make, I'd be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.

    MRS. BUTTLE: What have you done with his body?

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern