In an unexpected move yesterday (1st February 2007), it was announced that the Home Secretary, John Reid would attempt to extend the maximum time police can hold suspects without charge beyond the current 28-day limit.
The unexpected move dismayed civil liberties campaigners and MPs who were lead to believe that an extension was off the cards. After all, it was only two months ago that John Reid told the Commons home affairs committee he would not support an extension from 28 days unless the police gave him a detailed case, and yesterday the Association of Chief Police Officers said it had not presented him with a specific dossier of evidence.
So what has changed? Reid’s announcement conveniently comes at a time when the most lurid headlines have stoked up fear amongst the public following the arrests in Birmingham of 9 Muslim men a few days ago, though non of them has been charged with any offence. The briefings to the media are said to emanate from the Home Office. Could there be a clearer example of the government playing politics with security?