From this week, anyone arrested under anti-terrorist legislation can be detained for up to 28 days before any charges are brought.
Under the Terrorism Act 2006, which was passed in March, police powers of detention have been extended to allow for up to 28 days before a charge is brought. The earlier Terrorism Act 2000 had allowed for a maximum detention period of 14 days. In the aftermath of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, the government had argued that 90 days was necessary but this was not accepted by parliament.
Home Secretary John Reid hailed the new measure as a necessary defence against ‘those who seek to abuse or undermine our way of life’. The new detention powers came into effect on 25 July 2006.
According to Home Office figures, the majority of those arrested under anti-terrorist powers have been released without charge. Between 11 September 2001 and 30 September 2005, 895 people were arrested under anti-terrorist legislation and 496 released without charge; only twenty-three have been convicted under the Terrorism Acts.
The Home Office has also issued proscription orders on a further six groups: Al Ghurabaa, The Saved Sect, Baluchistan Liberation Army, TAK (Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan), Kongra Gel and KADEK.