Home Office warns Smith on detention

Jacqui Smith has been warned by her department, the Home Office, that moves to lock up terror suspects for up to 42 days could provoke a backlash among Muslims.

The Home Secretary pressed ahead yesterday with moves to increase the detention period from 28 days – the longest in the West – despite opposition among MPs of all parties and civil liberties groups. She faces a struggle to force the legislation on to the statute book.

Publishing a new counter terrorism Bill, Ms Smith insisted the extra powers were essential in the light of the increasing complexity of terror plots against Britain. But research for the Home Office acknowledged that ministers would face problems in persuading Muslims that the move was justified.

An equality-impact assessment, published by the department, said that Muslims felt that the anti-terror legislation already in force discriminated against them. It noted: "Muslim groups said that pre-charge detention may risk information being forthcoming from members of the community in the future."

The research echoed the conclusions of focus groups of young Muslim men conducted on behalf of Liberty, a civil liberties group. The polling company ComRes found that most Muslims believed the 28-day maximum was already too long. They said: "There is a strong consensus that extending the limit would only serve to promote the extremists' cause, that it would do little to help tackle terrorism, that it would damage the UK's international reputation and that it would further erode community relations."

Ms Smith is mounting a concerted drive to win over Labour MPs hostile to the proposed 42-day limit, which is also strongly opposed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Party whips admit they face the prospect of defeat.

A survey by The Independent last month found that 38 Labour MPs – enough to overturn the Government's majority – were prepared to defy the Home Secretary. The issue of pre-charge detention led to Tony Blair's first defeat in the Commons in November 2005, when he sought a 90-day limit.

Ms Smith has promised that the 42-day power would only be used in "exceptional circumstances" and would be subject to judicial oversight and a parliamentary vote. David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "Her fixation with extending pre-charge detention risks serving as a recruiting sergeant for terrorism."

He added: "The Government has not been able to present a shred of evidence to justify extending pre-charge detention, and there is now a range of evidence pointing the other way."

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "The obsession with 42 days is undermining, not supporting, the battle against terrorism."

The Bill also proposes a criminal offence of "communicating, publishing or eliciting" information about service personnel. Gathering details about members of the armed forces will carry up to 10 years' imprisonment if there is suspicion of a plot to place them in danger.

Other moves include allowing police to question terror suspects after they have been charged and closing a loophole which stops police from sharing fingerprints or DNA samples taken from terrorist suspects held under control orders.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week