Within the Terrorist (Police) Cell
(2013) 12 Contemporary Issues in Law 209-240
Posted: 15 Nov 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2013
At the heart of the terrorism policing powers in the Terrorism Act 2000 is arrest without warrant under section 41. Its traditional purpose is to allow for the interrogation of suspects. A second, and mounting, reason is to facilitate forensic testing by explosives analysis, DNA profiling, computer data recovery, and the examination of CCTV footage. These objectives are aided by an elongated period of detention (reduced from 28 to 14 days in 2010) which has proven extraordinarily controversial, with past proposals to extend it to 42, 56 and even 90 days. How detainees are treated during the regime which flows from this holding of terrorist suspects in police stations is the subject of this paper, with a focus on practices in England and Wales. The special power of arrest and its usage will first be outlined. Then, the paper will consider how detainees are handled in terms of: location; detention periods; access to lawyers and questioning processes; and contacts with family and others. The handling of police-media relations and community assurance must also be taken into account. Consideration will then be given to other suggested reforms and safeguards which are designed to enhance arrest and detention as both an ethical and effective instrument for intelligence and information gathering. Reflections on the overall impact and value of special arrest and detention powers will finally be offered.
Keywords: Terrorism, detention
JEL Classification: K10, K33, K19, K42, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation