[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on Thursday unveiled the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 [draft text, PDF; bill materials; BBC Q&A], which among other proposals to strengthen the country's terrorism laws includes a provision increasing the number of days a terror suspect can be detained without charge to 42 days, up from the current limit of 28. The Home Office described the bill [press release] as "designed to address the constantly changing threat posed to the UK by the violent extremists." In addition to the increased pre-charge detention period [JURIST news archive], the bill also proposes:
- granting the government more power to gather and share information for counter-terrorism purposes;
- allowing police to question terror suspects after they have been charged;
- enhancing sentences for terror offenses;
- strengthening monitoring of convicted terrorists;
- amending the definition of "terrorism;"
- expanding the use of DNA in terrorism investigations; and
- amending UK law on asset freezing proceedings under United Nations terrorism orders.
Smith first proposed a 42-day detention period [JURIST report] in December. The proposal followed statements made in June 2007 by former UK Home Secretary John Reid calling for longer pre-charge time limits [JURIST report], as well as a proposal [JURIST report] floated in July that would have allowed the extension of the 28-day limit after a declared state of emergency and would have allowed judges to authorize weekly extensions for up to 56 days subject to parliamentary notification. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.