Criminal Justice under New Labour

The issue of pre-charge detention in relation to terrorist suspects in the UK is, once again, getting quite heated. Human Rights and Civil Liberties groups such as Liberty are preparing to do battle once again with the Government over the issue of Pre-charge detention.

The Government under Tony Blair, attempted to increase the number of days a terrorist suspect could be held from 14 to 90, but in the end had to settle for 28 days – more than long enough in my opinion and that of many others. However, within the Counter Terrorism Bill currently before Parliament and heading into the final stages of Parliamentary approval there is an attempt to increase this from 28 days to 42 days. A petition started up on the Prime Minister’s official website has gathered over 6,000 signatures and is due to last until the end of the year (the petition can be found here).

The Government are simply not putting forward a strong enough case to convince the people that a further extension to the length of time the police have to hold a terrorist suspect is needed – they’re not putting any case forward for that matter. They simply utter the words “National Security” (or words to that effect in ministerial waffle) and expect the citizenry to fall into line.It just seems that New Labour has no idea about Criminal Justice, and this can be seen in another Bill before Parliament: The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. In their time in power, New Labour has been responsible for creating something like 3,500 new Criminal Offences (most of which were covered more than adequately under existing offences). They constantly provide the police with more powers to deal with anti-social behaviour and the terrorist threat. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill is no different. In this Bill further powers will be given in dealing with anti-social behaviour. None of the current powers are working or being used effectively and simply giving more power to deal with anti-social behaviour is not going to make a bind bit of difference! The answer to the anti-social behaviour problem lies in Education, re-building community and respect (that has given me an idea for an entry – so look out of another one on anti-social behaviour in the near future).