There have been many references in Parliament and in the media to the letter by Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Hayman to the Home Secretary, which was meant to support the NuLabour Police case for 90 days detention without charge.
However, the Home Office, probably deliberately, published this as a large 2Mb .pdf graphic scan and not as a text document.
We have therefore decided to re-type this letter so that the fallacious arguments in this so called professional advice, can be exposed to search engines and to the blogosphere (this web page is only about 50 Kb in size).
We hope that this will be of use in discussions, especially when the next call for the extension of such disproportionate powers is made, either for a longer period than the 28 days currently voted into the Terrorism Bill 2005, or for similar powers to be extended beyond terrorism cases to any international conspiracy e.g. drug smuggling, human slave trafficking or football hooligan cases.
[UPDATE: this .pdf file now appears to have been censored or removed from the Home Office website]
[Metropolitan Police logo] working together for a safer London
Andy Hayman QPM MA
New Scotland Yard
London SWIH 0BG
Telephone: 020 7230 3515
Facsimile: 020 7230 2565
6th October 2005
The Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP
2 Marsham Street
Counter terrorism legislation
Dear Home Secretary
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on the issue of extending the maximum period of detention.
You will see from the attached briefing note the operational requirements for an extension to the maximum period of detention without charge to three months, for which I am a strong advocate.
I do appreciate that there may be concern in some quarters regarding whether this is too long a period.
The checks and balances to be imposed by the judiciary will, I believe ensure that investigations are conducted in an expeditious manner and detention only continues where necessary
Andy Hayman QPM MA
N.B. Andy Hayman calls for "an extension to the maximum period of detention without charge to three months, for which I am a strong advocate" in the letter above, but there is no mention of any specific time period in the briefing note below.
However this also has to be read in the context of the shameful lobbying of Parliament by the Association of Chief Police Officers at the behest of the Home Office, when they should have stepped back from commenting on controversial political issues halfway through the votes in the House of Commons.
Other Crown servants are expressly forbidden from doing so, and the claim that they were just giving professional advice needs to be judged by this example below:
5th October 2005
Anti Terrorist Branch (SO13)
THREE MONTH PRE-CHARGE DETENTION
This paper will set out the issues from a police perspective which are driving the need for a pre-charge period of detention in terrorist cases which, subject to regular judicial oversight, might extend for up to three months. The paper will be divided into three sections as follows:
- The overall case for change from current arrangements
- Actual case studies derived from recent investigations
- A theoretical case study drawing together many of th the issues into one 'storyline'.
The Case for Change
Throughout the campaign waged by Irish terrorists, the concept of counter-terrorist investigation focussed on interdicting the terrorist at or near the point of attack. This enabled the best evidence to be obtained, in terms of catching the suspect in possession of terrorist material, or at a point where evidence as to his intentions was unequivocal. In the times when the requirements of disclosure were not so stringent, this approach, enabled the intelligence agencies, their techniques and investigations to be shielded from exposure in judicial proceedings.
The threat from international terrorism is so completely different that it has been necessary to adopt new ways of working. Irish terrorists deliberately sought to restrict casualties for political reasons. This is not the case with international terrorists.
There are other international terrorists apart from Al Quaeda etc., and this Terrorism Bill 2005 should and does apply to these other groups as well e.g. so called Animal Rights terrorists or Anti-abortion terrorists who also seek to restrict casualties.
The advent of terrorist attacks designed to cause mass casualties , with no warning, sometimes involving the use of suicide, and with the threat of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons means that we can no longer wait until the point of attack before intervening. The threat to the public is simpply too great to run that risk. During every counter terrorist investigations balance is struck between the maintenance of public safety, the gathering of evidence and the maintenance of community confidence in police actions. Public safety always comes first, and the result of this is that there are occaisions when suspected terrorists are arrested at an earlier stage in the planning and preparation than would have been the case in the past. In one recent case it was not possible to be sure that the terrorists were not about to mount an attack, and so the decision was taken to arrest. At that point there were more than ample grounds to make the arrests, but there was little or no admissible evidence. That had to be gathered during the following 14 days, with key parts of the evidence emerging by chance from a mass of material at the very end of that period.
The heart of the issue is this: Public safety demands earlier intervention, and so the period of evidence gathering that used to take place pre-arrest is often now denied to the investigators. This means that in some extremely complex cases, evidence gathering effictively begins post-arrest, giving rise to the requirement for a longer period of pre-charge detention to enable that evidence gathering to take place, and for high quality charging decisons to be made.
Aside from the changed concept of operation described above, there are a number of specific features of modern terrorism that drive the need for an increased period of time to be available before the decisions to charge or release can properly be made. These can be summarised as follows: -
- The networks are inevitable international, indeed global in their origins and span of operations. Enquiries have to be undertaken in many different jurisdictions, many of which are not able to operate to tight timescales.
- Establishing the identity of suspects often takes a considerable amount of time. The use of forged or stolen identity documents compounds this problem.
- There is often a need to employ interpreters to assist with the interview process. The global origins of the current terrorist threat has given rise to a requirement in some recent cases, to secure the services of interpreters who can work in dialects from the remote parts of the world. Such interpreters are difficult to find. This slows down the proceedings, restricting the time available for interview.
- Terrorists are now highly capable in their use of technology.
They have always used the available technology !
In recent cases large numbers (hundreds) of computers and hard drives were sized. Much of the data was encrypted. The examination and decryption of such vast amounts of data takes time, and needs to be analysed before being incorporated into an interview strategy. This is not primarily a resourcing issue, but one of necessarily sequential activity of data capture, analysis and disclosure prior to interview.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Part III Investigation of Electronic Data Protected by Encryption etc. is still not in force after 5 years !
Encryption is either broken quickly, or not at all, so detention without charge for 90 days is irrelevant to this.
There are automated analysis and indexing tools which have been available to the police for years, which make a mockery of the example claims by Tony Blair that "66,000 pages of printout" were required
- The forensic requirements in modern terrorist cases are far more complex and time consuming than in the past, particularly where there is the possibility of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear hazards. Following the discovery of a 'bomb factory' in Yorkshire after the 7th July attacks in London, it was over 2 weeks before safe access could be gained for the examination to begin. It took a further 6 weeks to complete the examination. The Al Qaeda methodology of mounting simultaneous attacks inevitably extends the time it takes for proper scene examination and analysis.
There were no suspects under arrest during the forensic examination of the Yorkshire 'bomb factory'
None of the suicide bombers or their associates had been arrested by the police in the preceding 14 days or the preceding 90 days, so to use this example to imply that this could have prevented the July 7th or even the
July 21st attacks is misleading.
- The use of mobile telephony by terrorists as a means of secure communications is a relatively new phenomenon.
It is a myth or deliberate disinformation that mobile telephony is a secure means of communication for terrorists, and many of them are fully aware of this.
Obtaining data from service providers and subsequent analysis of the data shows the linkage between suspects and their locations at key times all takes time.
But very little time, given that the process is almost totally automated with the use of tools like Analysts' Notebook or Watson etc..
It would be astonishing if this information was not available and analysed within an hour or two for UK service providers, and within a day or so from foreign providers. Even for calls made to overseas numbers, the basic "friendship tree" of which phone called which other phone, and when and location based data will be instantly available from the UK providers, although finding the subscriber information, if it exists, for foreign mobile or landline phones could take longer.
The debate on the Retention of Communications Data at the European Union level have shown that any useful use of such data is almost wholly confined to that which is already available and retained for normal business purposes, and that any lengthy time consuming trawling through old phone Call Detail Records is usually worthless.
Data Retention Is No Solution petition.
- There is now a need to allow time for regular religous observances by detainees that was not a feature in the past. This too causes delays in the investigative process during pre-charge detention.
This has been rightly criticised by MPs as an argument for extension to 90 days. Are the police arguing that they will not interview someone during Ramadan or Lent or on a Friday or on a Sunday ?
A feature of major counter-terrorist investigations has been that one firm of solicitors will frequently represent many of the suspects. This leads to delay in the process because of the requirements for consultation with multiple clients.
So how is this different from arresting and charging say, drug smuggling gangs, football hooligan gangs, sex slave traffickers etc ?
All of the above factors have contributed to the requirement, in the most serious and complex cases, for there to be the possibility of extended detention for the purposes of investigation prior to the point of decision about charging or release. It is not an issue that can be resolved simply by putting more resources into the investigation[our emphasis] Certainly this can help , in terms of ensuring that as much material as possible is available to investigation and to prosecutors. However, the process of staged disclosure to the defence, consultation with clients to take instructions, interview and assessment is essentially sequential, which the application of extra resources will not materially shorten.
Bear this important claim in mind:
"It is not an issue that can be resolved simply by putting more resources into the investigation"
Most of the examples of bottlenecks cited below are actually resource problems, which need to be addressed anyway, no matter what the length of "pre-charge detention", and do not justify 90 days.
Operation Springbourne 2002 - 2005 - the so called "ricin" plot. This was a wide ranging investigation into a network of Algerian extremists who were engaged in terrorist activity. Some of this activity was clearly terrorist in nature, but at the same time there was a great deal of peripheral supporting activity involving the use of forged documents, cheque and credit card fraud and the like. The investigation ran over several months and spanned not only the UK, but some 26 other jurisdictions as well. Many of those other jurisdictions (especially those with an inquisitorial system) work to extended timescales in such cases, and cannot respond to our enquiries within the timeframes demanded by our pre-charge limits.
Errr.. what has that got to do with UK law ? If the suspects have outstanding charges against them in a foreign country, that becomes an extradition matter which can be pursued afterwards.
Are the police really saying that they cannot get credit card data from VISA or Mastercard etc. from anywhere in the world, by asking the London offices of these companies ?
Surely they are not claiming that they have to make a request to a court in every foreign jurisdiction ?
How is this different for drug smuggling or football hooligan conspiracy cases which also involve foreign jurisdictions, but where there is no 14 or 28 or 90 day detention without charge ?
Why does all this foreign evidence etc. have to be in place before charging, rather than at the first actual court appearance, after a suspect has been remanded in custody awaiting trial ?
The challenge was to analyse the huge amount of material, to identify the prime conspirators (and what it was that they were plotting to do), and to clarify the roles played by each of the suspects. This proved impossible in the time available, and the result was that several suspects were originally charged with terrorist offences who were eventually proceeded against for crimes susch as fraud or forgery.
Did it not occur to the investigators that perhaps that fraud is all that these people were actually guilty of ?
This is symptiomatic of the current situation where investigations have to be shaped to fit the procedural requirements of the time-limited charging procedure, rather than simply following the evidence in an objective search for the truth.
In other words the European inquisatorial system with Judge Advocates ?
Had there been the opportunity to understand the complexity of the conspiracy before the decision was required to charge or release, the right charges against the right people could have been determined from the outset. The quality of the original charging decision would also have been higher, and it is probable that the suspect who fled the country while on bail and who eventually proved to have been a prime conspirator, would have stood trial in this country. If that had happened, the outcome of the trial process might have been very different.
This is Mohamed Mergueba, who fled to Algeria after being released on bail by the Police after two days . How on earth can this example be used to justify 90 days detention without charge ?
This example actually casts doubt on the need for the existing 14 days detention without charge !
Operation 2004 (this case is sub judice and it would therefore be inappropriate to release further details)
This case was concerned with a group of British men who, it will be alleged at trial, were planning to construct and detonate a bomb in the UK. A long-term surveillance operation led to the arrest and charging 8 men with offences of conspiring to explosions. The investigators are of the opinion that if the decision to charge could have been delayed while the investigation developed and the precise role of individuals became clearer, then the outcome in terms of admissions, intelligence and evidence against key individuals might have been different. It can reasonably be argued that in this case the current systems worked contrary to the overall objective of preserving public safety. The silence of the suspects, encouraged by current custody time limits, shed no light on the intention or capabilities of the terrorist network. The case will be heard in January 2006.
Presumably this is the one case where a bag of some 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser (not on its own a viable explosive) was actually seized in a rented storage unit in west London found in March 2004 ?
So theory in this case is that holding the suspects for 90 days might have led to some of the suspects to crack, and to break their silence, presumably under long term psychological pressure or duress ?
As was pointed out in the House of Commons, any confessions obtained after a lengthy non-stop questioning, for many days, will probably be considered to be unsafe by a court.
If this argument is allowed, then indefinate detention until someone confesses would also be justified, like at Guantanamao Bay, which is simply not acceptable here in the UK. .
Operation 2004 (this case is sub judice and it would therefore be inappropriate to release further details)
The investigation focussed on a group of British men who, it will be alleged at trial, were engaged in terrorist reconnaissance and planning in the US and the UK. After their arrest in August 2004, a vast amount of material was recovered in searches, including some 90 hard drives, much of the content of which was encrypted. The sheer weight of material to be analysed and the number of suspects in custody meant that it was impossible, within the 14 days, to complete a fuller investigation. There were many key pieces of evidence which police were unable to put to the suspects in interview because they were not discovered until after the detention period had elapsed.
In other words, despite the denial above, this is simply an issue of investigative resources.
Presumably this case is the one which resulted from the US Republican Adminstration's gaffe, involving the naming of double agent / cooperating terrorist suspect Mohamed Naeem Noor Khan in Pakistan which led to the premature arrest of the "Luton gang"
This has been seen by many as a cynical ploy by Republican White House oficials to grasp at any "intelligence" which could be used to justify increasing the state of alert in the USA, just after the Democratic Party 's presidential election convention, for dubious opinion poll rating reasons. There was certainly no immediate threat to the USA, given that the so called reconnaissance photos and plans were over 3 years old
Operation 2005 (this case is sub judice and it would therefore be inappropriate to release further details)
This is the investigation into the attacks in London on 21st July 2005. One of the suspects has already raised the defence that he intended to do no more than cause a demonstration of some sort, but not to kill anyone. It is possible that this defence will be followed by others.
Terrorising people, even without killing or injuring them is still an terrorism offence under the Terrorism Act 2000 definition of terrorism.
If there had been the opportunity to delay charging, this would have been taken. A definative analysis of the explosive devices would have enabled an interview strategy to be constructed that would be based on firm knowledge of the nature of the devices, rather than a very limited assessment.
What are they on about ??
This "defence" was raised Hussain Osman, the suspect who managed to evade the Police and so called border guards at the Waterloo Eurostar train, and who fled to Italy where he was arrested and held for two months before being extradited back to the UK.
Surely, there was ample time to determine forensically if the recovered explosive devices were hoax bombs or failed real ones ?
Why does it take more than a day or two to fully analyse an unexploded bomb or hoax device ? Certainly within 14 days dozens of replica devices could have been built and tested. What conceivable other higher priority tasks did the military ordanance weapons research laboratories have at the time ? None.
The point in this case, as with those quoted above, is that an extended period of detention would enable the quality of material disclosed to the defence in advance of interviews, to be immeasurably improved.
So the reason for longer detention without charge is to somehow improve the defence of the suspects ?
What happened to innocent until proven guilty ?
Theoretical Case Study
This case study has been constructed with the assistance of the Crown Prosecution Service and draws upon issues that have arisen in many real cases. The statistics are entirely typical of the scale of events that have been seen in terrorist investigations in recent years.
Are these "many real cases" actually terrorism related cases ? There have really not been that many such cases, despite the tens of thousands of stops and searches, and the hundreds of arrests.
Given the small number of charges and convictions for terrorist offences, only one of which appears to involve a potential suicide bomber (in Gloucester, who changed his mind).
The Security Service are told by an agent that a group of men in various parts of the country are planning terrorist attacks on the houses of Parliament and the British Embassies in Pakistan, Istanbul and Morrocco.
How convenient that this document mentions the Houses of Parliament when it is being used to try to influence Members of Parliament ! The best protection that MPs and the Government should have is that it must be made clear to any potential terrorists that even if they succeed in killing some MPs, we will simply elect new ones, and they will have failed in their attempts to destabilise our country.
Does nobody in the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the Home Office know what the capital of Turkey is ? It is not Istanbul but Ankara, which is where the British Embassy is. There is a British Consulate-General in Istanbul.
Surely the concept of attacks by one single group in four different countries is too far fetched ? None of the Al Quaeda attacks have been on this international scale,
All of the previous attacks in these countries have involved native groups or native resident groups
They have been exploring conventional and homemade explosives as well as CBRN possabilities. It is believed that this will be carried out in 3 months time. The agent is reliable and his information must be acted on for public safety reasons.
Where exactly are these supposed conventional and homemade explosives and CBRN materials here in the UK ? If there are some, then these will provide plenty of evidence to arrest and charge the plotters. If they only exist in the imaginations of the plotters, or, in the imagination of the informer or perhaps, agent provocateur, then that is not good enough.
The only way in which such an agent could be considered to be reliable, would be if his previous information had led to the foiling of previous actual realistic plots, rather than fanciful planning exercises.
Surveillance is started on 2 of the men identified and over a period of 2 months, they are seen with numerous other people. All of the people seen are unknown to intelligence services and cannot be identified.
Why are they all automatically suspects then ? Surely some, probably most of them could possibly be innocent of terrorism ?
Are these people who are unknown to the police or to intelligence agencies, now also going to be automatically treated as terrorist suspects, simply via association with people who are not yet proven to be terrorists ?
5 key addresses were identified and probes were put into each over the period.
"Probes" is police newspeak for electronic surveillance devices, hidden cameras, microphones, fibre optics etc.
The agent does not know where the dangerous materials are being stored or where they have been obtained from although he beleives that some might have been brought in from abroad..
Which rather contradicts the usefulesness and reliability of this supposed agent, and which certainly invalidates the claim made above that "his information must be acted on for public safety reasons".
How can such a vague report be treated as firm intelligence , let alone hard evidence ?
The men are believed to be all illegal entrants to this country and are each living on at least 2 false identities
Most illegal immigrants use false foreign identity papers, not British ones. just in case this letter is recycled as a justification in the controversial Identity Cards Billdebate. Obviously even a perfect UK ID Card scheme would have no appreciable effect on falsely applied for or forged foreign identity documents, despite the hype which Home Office Ministers employ to imply the contrary.
So far so good, intelligence gathering and surveillance.
Police arrest 15 people following the execution of Terrorism Act warrants in 4 different areas of the country on 1 day. Each arrest requires time-consuming custody procedures, sterile arrest, transportation of prisoners and taking of evidential samples. The samples are particularly important as it is thought that the men are not who they purport to be and / or not from the countries they claim to come from. Each has at least one false passport.
The fingerprints are sent to 5 different countries to see if the men can be properly identified
From a charging perspective, what is the pressing need to establish their "true" identities, if they have been arrested with sufficient evidence to be charged ? They may or may not be wanted men in other countries, but any extraditions etc. must surely wait until British justice has finished with them first ?
It is perfectly possible to charge , try and convict someone whose "real" name is unknown.
If these are illegal entrants to the UK, why are they not held under immigration law , as all the Belmarsh detainees were ?
Note the resource problem again. Why is there a bottleneck with a single Custody Sergeant ?
The lack of Custody Sergeants at a particlar police station is no excuse for extending the period of pre-charge detention in the Terrorism Bill 2005.
If the arrests were made in 4 different parts of the country, why could the DNA samples , fingerprints, palmprints, photographs and impressions of footwear, not be taken at the local police stations in parallel, instead of sequentially ?
With 15 people under arrest, a disclosure strategy was required so as to achieve the best evidence from the interviews and test the accounts given. This was done whilst the defendents were being examined and other procedures carried out, and whilst the police were waiting for the solicitors to arrive. Each disclosure package given to the respective legal representative required lengthy consultations with the detainees.
How is this any different from an investigation into say drug smuggling, human trafficking or even football hooligan gangs ?
2 firms of solicitors represented all the detained men.Their representatives were not available immediately: the police had to wait 4 hours for one and 5 hours for another.
If the police conduct a dawn raid, why do they expect firms of solicitors to be availble before normal office hours ?
Again, how is this any different to other legal proceedings involving multiple arrests ?
Each firm only provided 2 representatives The initial consultations with each client lasted on average 4-5 hours. This time took up some of the time available to the officers to conduct their detailed interviews and enquiries, the clock did not stop running whilst the detainees were taking legal advice.
Surely the amount of time for legal consultation is not an issue which impinges on even the first 7 days of detention without charge, let alone 90 days ?
In addition all 15 men need to be allowed to observe prayer 5 times a day and all say that they need an interpreter.
Are Catholics also allowed to say Mass , Lauds, Vigils etc. ? Or is there systemic religous discrimination built into these procedures ?
In the first 14 days a total of 165 interviews were conducted. Most of the suspects say nothing, but as more evidence is put to them by th e14th day , 2 appear to be getting concerned and might talk.
Or they might not talk.
Surely the maximum time for detention without charge is , untill the Terrorism Bill 2005 recives Royal Assent, still 14 days maximum ? Why does this fictional case study use the words "In the first 14 days" ?
This averages out at thre quarters of an interview, per suspect per day. How then does the time for religous observance or for legal consultation make any difference whatsover? Surely the Police and Criminal Evidence Act rules limit how long a suspect can be interviewed for per day ?
Within the first 4 days of detention, 55 forensic searches were conducted around the country, involving residential and non-residential properties amd vehicles, again involving an enormous amount of work by officers to speedily assess the relevance of exhibits within the time limits imposed.
Each of these required a separate warrant and information received led the police to believe that there could be CBRN material on the premises as well as possibly conventional and homemade explosives. This meant that specialist teams had to be deployed and some of the premises were unsafe to enter until various forms of risk assessments had been done and procedures carried out. There are only a limited number of specialists available to do this work and it was only possible to do one premise at a time. 10 of the premises require this procedure and were in three of the different parts of the country, some about 5 hours drive away from the other.
This fictional case study seems to be getting ever more ridiculous as it proceeds.
So why were no military specialists called on for risk assement and safety purposes ?
Are anti-terrorist police resources really so limited that only one location at a time can be examined ?
Why can't critical specialists and equipment be flown by helicopter or aeroplane instead of driving 5 hours by road ?
This is not a case for extension of pre-charge detention, it is a call for more resources, or for more efficient use of existing resources.
Why does this fictional scenario neglect to mention that the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 already gives a police constable the right to search permises for nuclear or radiological material without a warrant
During this period of time a vast amount of exhibits were seized during the searches. This had to be examined, prioritised, sifted for relevance, an assessment made of which individual should be questioned about which exhibit, and a decision made on which should be sent to experts in chemical weapons, which on biological, which to FEL and which to AWE
The far fetched scenario implies that explosives and chemical and biological and radiological and nuclear weapons have been discovered .
This is more than was discovered in the whole of Iraq by the weapons inspection agencies !
For 15 illegal immigrants to actually have access to all of these technologies in dangerous quantities is simply unbelievable.
FEL - Forensic Explosive Laboratory, part of the Energetics division of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories
AWE = Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston
There were about 4,000 exhibits labelled in the first week with many more outstanding for examination. At least half of the documentary exhibits (about 600) are in Arabic. Most of the available interpreters are being used for the interviews and after trawling the country police manage to locate another 3 who can begin on the documents.
Are they seriously telling us that there are fewer than 20 Arabic interpreters in the whole country ? This is an investigative resourcing problem, again in direct contradiction to the statement above, and no justification whatsoever for increasing the period of detention without charge.
There are also several boxes of video tapes the contents of which the police do not know until they have been viewed. There are no labels on them. A cursory viewing of a handful shows that they are extremist in nature and mostly with Arabic voiceovers or individuals speaking in Arabic on. There is little point in officers viewing these further as they cannot understand them.
So why are these not sent to be analysed by GCHQ and MI5 ?
How are these videos of relevance to the case for protecting the safety of the public from an immediate terrorist threat ?
A decision had to be taken about where each of the exhibits should go first. It is decided to fingerprint 300 documents first. Half of these are handwritten and will also need to be examined for handwriting analysis. All the identification documents found (at least 100) need to go for expert analysis to see if they are false.
Note that the number of identity documents mentioned here is significantly greater than the number mentioned above where it was claimed that the 15 suspects had two false identities and a false passport each.
15 of these are french, 10 each are Spanish, Italian and Turkish, but the majority appear to be of Eastern European extraction, maybe Bosnian, and all have to be submitted to their country of origin to check whether they are genuine.
Why their country of origin, rather than the London Embassy or Consulate or the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office ? Surely the pasport numbers and photo details can simply be faxed or emailed or for the European Union, directly input into the Schengen Information System to the foreign authorities for them to check to see if these are stolen documents etc ?
This paragraph of the fictional scenario, although it confirms our views about the uselessness of a British ID Card scheme in fighting terrorism, does appear to be an attempt to claim a more time consuming procedure than would really happen in practice.
There have been over 286 computers seized together with 274 hard drives, 591 floppy discs, 920 CD DVDS and 47 zip discs.
Nearly 20 computers seized for each of the 15 suspects ?? This is not credible.
The High Tech Crime Unit say that every computer hard drive seized during that period of time takes a minimum of 12 hours to image for the assessment teams in Paddington to then provide to the interviewing officers.
Yet again this is simply an investigative resource problem which could easily be solved simply by doing giving the National High Tech Crime Unit the resources which they deserve, given the prevalence of computers in the 21st century.
The preliminary assessments carried out, due to the time constraints, cannot be considered as thorough and have to be revisited as other factors emerge and different matters become relevant. About a quarter of the computers and hard drives have encrypted material on them and the suspects are refusing to give the keys saying that the computers, even those found in identifiable homes, are nothing to do with them. Assistance is required from a number of agencies here and broad with regard to this and an assessment has to be made about which computers to prioritise.
It is not clear which of these computers was used the most as the man believed to be the leader and 2 others have been itinerant, using at least 20 of the known addresses over the last 6 month period.
The main suspect was of no fixed abode. He had items of personal property at a number of addresses. Some in false [false what ?], fingerprint and DNA work done in the first 4 weeks enabled police to establish this.
During the first two weeks 60 seized mobile telephones, mostly pay as you go, were forensically examined. The sheer volume of material to be gathered from these examinations meant that much of it was not available until the 6th week of the investigation. This evidence is crucial as it is needed to corroborate associations and prove movements. DNA analysis is required to discover which telephones have been used by which suspects, again because they have visited many addresses.
See the comments above about the use of standard intelligence visualisations tools, used by every police force and intelligence agency, which take literally a few seconds to analyse "friendship tree" relationships and locations from mobile phone Communications Traffic Data
Some 25,000 man hours were spent examining CCTV footage.
Why ? We have been calling for the Regulation and Licensing of CCTV surveillance camera footage for years.
This would vastly reduce the amount of time to collect copies of the relevant CCTV footage that the police would have to trawl through, instead of having to literally go from door to door as they do now.
It would also reveal footage from cameras which the Police are simply unaware of at present.
It would also increase the quality of the images, from CCTV systems which are currently, all too often improperly serviced, with dirty lenses, overused video tape etc.
Some 3674 man hours are used to assess the eavesdropping material gathered by probes operating 24 hours a day over an 8 week period. There are 850 surveillance and observation point logs that must be assessed for their evidential value. This evidence will be crucial to establish who was present at which meetings and what was said.
All very interesting, but how does this make a case for increased detention without charge ?
All this surveillance stuff happens before the arrest.
Surely it is assessed daily or weekly for its evidential value, if for no other reason than to determine whether or not it is worth continuing to spend money on it for a particular target ?
In the first 4 weeks the police identified 6000 actions in the investigation. 10,000 documents, 2300 statements and 7000 exhibits have been seized or created by week 8 of the investigation. Crucial evidence is still awaited from DNA, other scientific work and from various foreign enquiries coming in gradually over a period of detention.
Letters of request for legal assistance in gathering evidence abroad have been written by prosecutors and sent through emergency channels to 17 countries.
As the enquiries progress more addresses are being identified, more searches done and more exhibits, computers and false documentation with photographs of the suspects and others are being discovered. In amongst the documents are some bearing the picture of a well known international terrorist being held in custody in another country where it is not easy for the police to obtain access or information. This might be a crucial link with some of the suspects being held and an approach needs to be made through diplomatic channels.
Throughout the detention period it is becoming abundantly clear that there were plans to use a dirty bomb in the Houses of Parliament, conventional explosives for an attack on 2 of the Embassies and a possible chemical attack on the third.
Where are these explosives and radiological and chemical materials ? If any of these had been found, the suspects could have been charged and remanded in custody.
How were these dangerous materials meant to magically get from the UK to Turkey or Pakistan or Morrocco ?
Each suspect has several identities. We are waiting to hear if the requested countries can establish the true identity of the men. Fingerprints of each man are being found on some documents of a suspicious nature. It is unclear however which role each man took and whether they can be linked to any or all of the planned attacks.
What if some of those arrested are actually innocent of these alleged plots ?
The case is largely circumstantial as no chemicals or explosives or anything else of that nature has been found despite the fact that the targeting document (found on the 50th computer to be examined in the 7th week) shows that the attack on Parliament was due to take place 2 days after the arrests.
It is simply not credible that a viable attack on Parliament or on anywhere else set for 2 days after the date of the arrests, could have been actually been in progress wiith explosives, chemical weapons or radiological material, and for there to be no forensic evidence linking the suspects to such devices.
Are we meant to believe that it is possible for such dangerous items to be simply bought off the shelf, assembled and tested and smuggled into place from a standing start in 2 days ?
What happened to the old "Means, Motive and Opportunity" mantra of criminal investigations ?
Perhaps the suspects do have a Motive, but where are the Means or the Opportunity ?
Or is this all simply down to prosecuting Thought Crimes instead of real danger to the public ?
2 prosecutors are working full time with the Anti Terrorist Branch making applications to extend pre-charge detention, drafting initial and supplementary letters of request and reviewing evidence as the investigation progresses. Experts from 10 different disciplines are working on exhibits and documents seized as well as scouring addresses and cars for explosive and other traces and 3/4 of the police capacity has been involved in various actions including examination of exhibits, computers, interviewing etc.
There it ends, the supposed compelling case for extending the maximum period of detention without charge.
This document has not convinced us, neither has it has conviced other bloggers such as Unity at Talk Poltics .
It obviously did not convince the majority of Members of Parliament either, although, of course,it is unlikely that all of them will have bothered to have read it word for word.
Gareth Peirce, writes an interesting article in The Guardian dissecting the claims made above in Andy Hayman's opus, with her real life experience as one of the solicitors most familiar with the Kafkaesque system at the Paddington Green "high security" Police Station. - via Craig Murray former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Technorati tag: Terrorism Bill 2005