Contemporary Issues in Law - Volume 12 - Issue 3


Professor Clive Walker
School of Law, University of Leeds

At the heart of the terrorism policing powers in the Terrorism Act 2000 is arrest without warrant under section 41. Its traditional purpose is to allow for the interrogation of suspects. A second, and mounting, reason is to facilitate forensic testing by explosives analysis, DNA profiling, computer data recovery, and the examination of CCTV footage. These objectives are aided by an elongated period of detention (reduced from 28 to 14 days in 2010) which has proven extraordinarily controversial, with past proposals to extend it to 42, 56 and even 90 days. How detainees are treated during the regime which flows from this holding of terrorist suspects in police stations is the subject of this paper, with a focus on practices in England and Wales. The special power of arrest and its usage will first be outlined. Then, the paper will consider how detainees are handled in terms of: location; detention periods; access to lawyers and questioning processes; and contacts with family and others. The handling of police-media relations and community assurance must also be taken into account. Consideration will then be given to other suggested reforms and safeguards which are designed to enhance arrest and detention as both an ethical and effective instrument for intelligence and information gathering. Reflections on the overall impact and value of special arrest and detention powers will finally be offered.

Dr Jon Moran
Reader in Security, University of Leicester

The use of informants in combating crime raises the most acute questions both in terms of ethics and effectiveness. One issue is whether this most intrusive form of state penetration of civil society and personal privacy is justifiable. It will be argued here that although there are ethical risks to using informants there are ethical risks to not using them. Using informants may also be preferable to other techniques such as mass surveillance. In ethical terms the paper also addresses a neglected issue, the need for the state to protect the informants it uses. In terms of effectiveness, informants have been shown to be an effective tactic against organised crime and terrorism. However, an over reliance on the tactic of informant running may overlook strategic dangers. If state agents rely on one informant or even a network of informants they may miss vital developments elsewhere, a pattern which appeared evident with regard to the development of jihadist terrorism in the UK when the security services? existing network of foreign informants resulted in their neglecting the development of home grown radicalisation. Elsewhere, the use of informants may result in the state (in the form of the police) effectively 'managing' crime down to a certain level rather than eradicating it. Although the practice of informant running by state agencies has been subject to legal, organisational and managerial reform over the last two decades, trenchant issues remain evident in the practice.

Ian McKim
Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of South Wales

Much of the debate concerning public order policing has been centred upon front line tactics and the use of force to control large numbers of protesters. However, a parallel system which has expanded in recent times, namely the role of surveillance and criminalisation of political activists on the left has gone largely unchallenged. Building on Noakes and Gillham's concept of strategic incapacitation the paper critically examines ACPO's move towards mass surveillance premised on the concept of 'domestic extremism.' With Forward Intelligence Teams recording activists attending political demonstrations and meetings the stated aims of FITs has widened somewhat. Furthermore, the tactic of containment is being used, not only to control large numbers of protesters, but to capture data on individuals. The quasi governance of public order policing and the blurred lines of domestic extremism have criminalised large numbers of activists. Conflating domestic extremism with terrorism has brought into question the concept of policing by consent. It also highlights how the police have adapted to the changing world of protests. And although the narrative of facilitation is talked of by ACPO, public order policing is largely focused on intelligence gathering and surveillance. The language now deployed by ACPO, the Metropolitan Police, and NDEU is the language of actuarial classification and data surveillance. Feeley and Simon talked of managing unruly groups; however, the strategy is now managing unruly citizens - anyone who regularly challenges the prevailing order.