One of Britain's most senior police officers has demanded a return to a form of internment, with the power to lock up terror suspects indefinitely without charge.
The proposal, put forward by the head of the Association of Police Chief Officers (Acpo) and supported by Scotland Yard, is highly controversial. An earlier plan to extend the amount of time suspects can be held without charge to 90 days led to Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as Prime Minister. Eventually, the government was forced to compromise on 28 days, a period which Gordon Brown has already said he wants to extend.
The Observer understands that the Acpo proposal has been discussed in meetings between Brown and senior police officers. Whitehall sources said the PM was receptive to the association's demands, but believes an upper detention limit is essential to avoid a de facto Guantanamo Bay based in the UK.
Ken Jones, the president of Acpo, told The Observer that in some cases there was a need to hold terrorist suspects without charge for 'as long as it takes'. He said such hardline measures were the only way to counter the complex, global nature of terrorist cells planning further attacks in Britain and that civil liberty arguments were untenable in light of the evolving terror threat.
This will surely be the decade remembered as the one that rolled civil rights back 50 years in the west.