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The head of the Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO) has called for police to be given the power to imprison ‘terror suspects” indefinitely without charge.

According to the July 15 Observer Ken Jones, the president of ACPO told the paper “that in some cases there was a need to hold terrorist suspects without charge for as long as it takes” and that “such hardline measures were the only way to counter the complex, global nature of terrorist cells planning further attacks”. The Observer also claimed that according to Jones “civil liberty arguments were untenable in the light of the evolving terror threat”.

An earlier proposal put forward by the police requesting the power to detain suspects without charge for up to 90 days resulted in Tony Blair’s first defeat in the House of Commons in 2005. Blair was forced to compromise and agreed on the current limit of 28 days, which according to the July 16 Morning Star “is already the longest period of pre-charge detention in any Western country, including the United States”.

The Star continued: “The matter was reportedly discussed in meetings between Prime Minister Gordon Brown and senior police officers. The new Premier, who has already signalled his desire to extend the draconian 28-day limit, is believed to be supportive of the proposals”.

Jones’s demand that the police be granted such powers was immediately attacked by left-wing politicians and civil liberties groups. Left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Star: “It would create another Guantanamo Bay. This is political campaigning by ACPO. It’s not their job to propose legislation and they should remember the role of police in a democratic society”.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, told the Observer: “It is coming to the point where we have to ask serious questions about the role of ACPO in a constitutional democracy. We elect politicians to determine legislation and we expect chief constables to uphold the rule of law, not campaign for internment”.

An Amnesty International spokeswoman told the Morning Star: “The right to be promptly charged is the dividing line between liberty and arbitrary detention. Indefinite detention violates the right to liberty and the right to be presumed innocent”.

The proposal was also attacked by politicians from the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, and a spokesman from the Stop the War Coalition added: “The police seem to be driving to grant themselves more powers. They should stay out of political debates”.

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