Brown seeks 90-day detentions

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown has hinted that he wants the police to have the power to hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge - reopening a political row that led to a humiliating Commons defeat for Tony Blair.

The hint, from friends of Gordon Brown, is in line with the Chancellor's political strategy of demonstrating that there will be no significant change of political direction he takes over as Prime Minister. But it risks increasing his unpopularity with the Labour left, who are already angered by his promise to renew the Trident nuclear missile system.

However, the Chancellor was supported yesterday by a report from the Commons all party Home Affairs committee, which said that the maximum of 28 days detention set by parliament will probably have to be increased.

The report included some scathing criticisms of the police and government for not putting an effective case for 90 days detention. The MPs, however, recognised that the nature of the terrorist threat meant that police have to arrest suspects before they had conclusive evidence against them. ''We believe that the 28-day limit may well prove inadequate in the future,'' their report added.

But the MPs also insisted on extra safeguards before police powers to detain terrorist suspects were extended, including an independent body that would annually review whether increased powers were needed.