Detention of terrorist suspects: hospital treatment

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 3 Gorffennaf 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I want to speak to clause 16 because I am conscious that, even if no amendments are tabled, some parts of the Bill are important and the concerns that we heard in evidence should be reflected. Even if hon. Members on both sides of the Committee agree with the provision, it is important that those on the outside can hear some of our justification.

The clause amends the Terrorism Act 2000 to exclude time spent in, and travelling to and from, hospital from the calculation of the time a suspect spends in pre-charge detention. General criminal law has long recognised that it is appropriate to pause the detention clock so that the time an individual spends in pre-charge detention does not include any time they are receiving hospital treatment or travelling to or from hospital, in the relatively rare cases where a detainee needs hospital treatment.

At present, the calculation of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for an individual arrested under the 2000 Act makes no allowance for any time spent by the suspect receiving hospital treatment. Consequently, if a suspect were to be injured or fall ill in custody, the amount of time available to the police to interview the suspect would be reduced. That could impair the police investigation and prevent a proper decision from being reached on whether to charge the individual before they must be released. They could therefore evade justice and the public could be put at risk.

The change will ensure that the police can use the full amount of time permitted to them under the law to question a suspect, investigate the suspected offence, and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to reach a charging decision. Terrorist investigations are often exceedingly complex and can involve a high level of risk to the public. As such, it is important that the police are able to investigate fully and get such decisions right.

The change will also apply to the calculation of the maximum time for which an individual may be detained for the purpose of examination under schedule 7 to the 2000 Act, which stands at six hours including the initial hour during which a person may be examined without being detained. That will give effect to a recommendation made by the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, QC, and will bring the provisions of the 2000 Act in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2