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UK drops 28-day custody limit for terror suspects

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January 20, 2011 12:19 PM EST | AP


LONDON — Britain will scrap rules that allow police to hold terror suspects for up to 28 days before they must be charged with a crime or released, officials said Thursday.

A new limit of 14 days will take effect Tuesday, Home Office minister Damian Green said before an announcement next week on a sweeping review of the country's approach to combatting terrorism.

The 28-day detention rule was introduced by the Labour government in 2006 – soon after the London bombings on July 7, 2005 – but police have rarely used that power, Green said.

"Since July 2007, no one has been held for longer than 14 days despite the many terrorists arrested since then," he told lawmakers.

Home Secretary Theresa May would announce to Parliament more details of the government's review of counterterrorism measures on Wednesday.

Although the 14-day maximum would soon become the norm, Green added that officials would draw up emergency laws to prepare for "very exceptional circumstances" when a longer period of detention becomes necessary.

In 2005, then Prime Minister Tony Blair was defeated in a House of Commons vote over plans to allow police to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days.