Wednesday, 6 July 2011

More on the Police (Detention and Bail) bill

Details of the bill are now public.

Currently it doesn't seek to expand on restoring the status quo that the Police had unlawfully established, but there's time during its passage through Parliament.

The first interesting aspect is that it explicitly states "The amendments made by subsections (1) and (2) are deemed always to have had effect." which makes the change retrospective. I assume this is to stop many thousands of claims for compensation due to unlawful detention and the rest of the can of worms opened last week.

Second, it restores the ability to arrest people, interrogate them and then spend months trawling for evidence while keeping them on a short leash, forced to report regularly to Police stations. All before the Police have enough evidence to press charges. They can be arrested, released and re-arrested over and over: several times if necessary as long as the periods of detention don't add up to the maximum.

One final point is that when the so-called crisis broke last week, government went straight to ACPO to ask what they should do. In effect, Parliament ceeded creation of the law to those that enforce the law, something that really, really, should not be happening. I've said before its up to Parliament to create the laws and for the Police to enforce them. Its especially not right that ACPO, an unaccountable limited company should dictate laws to be created by Parliament.

I'll also wager that during what limited debates are allowed on this bill that not one MP asks the questions why was the Police interpretation of the law on bail so wrong, why did it continue for so long and why we need to change back to the old system. I'd have thought it was quite obvious that it would be fairer to arrest people once there was enough evidence against them to charge them, rather than arrest them and then keep them in limbo for many months while the evidence is gathered.

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