DNA loophole hinders terror police, says Reid


Police are prevented by law from taking fingerprints and DNA from terrorist suspects on control orders, John Reid, the outgoing Home Secretary, admitted yesterday.

The revelation shocked opposition parties who said it was the first they knew of this startling omission in the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, called it ''an astonishing revelation''. He added: ''It merely underlines the profound flaws in the
whole control-order regime.

''Six people on control orders have absconded, their whereabouts still unknown.Cerie Bullivant, 24, Lamine Adam, 26, and his brother, Ibrahim, 20, are among Britain's most wanted men after vanishing last month.

The Adams's third brother, Anthony Garcia, was one of the fertiliser bomb plotters and was jailed for life in April.Bestun Salim, an Iraqi, vanished from his Manchester flat last summer after being charged with seven offences of breaching his control order.Another suspect, known only as AD, escaped from a mental health unit last September, and is alleged to have been a friend of Asif Hanif, a British man who detonated a suicide bomb in Israel.The final absconder is a Pakistani who fled in January.

Mr Reid said he wanted to build a ''national consensus'' around tougher counter-terrorist powers, including longer detention without charge of suspects.

He is seeking agreement for a raft of measures, including setting up a sex offender-style register, and a review by the Privy Council into whether courts can accept intercepted evidence.With agreement, they will be included in a Bill in the autumn.

However, sweeping new powers for the police to stop and question anyone, proposed by Gordon Brown just a few days ago, have not yet been agreed in Whitehall.

The main debate centres on whether to extend the 28-day limit that police can hold terror suspects for questioning.

Mr Reid thought this should be longer but has not proposed a specific increase.

An attempt to extend the period to 90 days was defeated in Parliament 18 months ago.''One way might be to legislate now to extend the current limit but to make it clear that there would be further judicial and parliamentary oversight if such measures were ever implemented," Mr Reid said.

In a separate report, Lord Carlile, the Government's independent reviewer of anti-terror legislation, supported detaining suspects without charge for longer.

New counter-terrorism proposals:

• Extending the detention limits for terror suspects beyond 28 days

• Allowing terrorist suspects to be questioned after charge

• Introducing a sex offenders-style register to keep track of convicted terrorists

• Tougher sentences for those found guilty of terror offences

• Police powers to enter homes of people on control orders

• A review of the possible use of intercept evidence 

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