NARPO: Detaining terrorist suspects

Commenting on proposed changes to legislation to address the terrorist threat in Britain

NARPO believe that the debate about improved police powers to tackle the very real terrorist threat to the British people should be considered more in the round.

NARPO are in favour of extending the time limits that suspects can be held in connection with appropriate ongoing terrorist enquiries provided that there are safeguards in place to protect individual’s rights.

Whilst many commentators have expressed a view that a case has not been made out to extend this limit and use the fact that in previous cases charges were put to those detained within the current 28 day period, we are sure that this is the case only because of the huge amount of time that police and forensic experts put into the investigation process in that 28 day period.

The volume of evidence seized must also have meant that subsequent to charge a great deal of work would have remained to be completed.

In more complex cases there will be a real possibility that police will need extra time to consider seized material before finally being able to charge. Are we to wait until that time arrives and potentially guilty suspects are released before Parliament listens to the considered advice of the police service?

NARPO supports allowing questioning after charge but does not see this as an alternative to extending the time limits on detention. Police need sufficient evidence to satisfy the Crown Prosecution Service that a ‘Prima Facia’ case exists against a detained suspect before a charge can be put. As we have explained, this can take time. We are sure that the police should put charges at the earliest reasonable time. Allowing questioning after charge should encourage that position and be a further safeguard to detained suspects.

NARPO supports the use of intercepted communications evidence in criminal court proceedings. Whilst acknowledging that an ‘intelligence only’ strategy has its attractions, we believe that most members of the public will not understand that if significant intercept evidence exists, why that evidence cannot be put before a court.