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In the Highest Degree OdiousDetention without Trial in Wartime Britain$
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A. W. Brian Simpson

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198259497

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198259497.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 May 2021

The Invention of Executive Detention

The Invention of Executive Detention

(p.1) 1 The Invention of Executive Detention
In the Highest Degree Odious

A. W. Brian Simpson

Oxford University Press

This book is a history of the use of executive detention in Britain during World War II under Regulation 18B of the Defence (General) Regulations; this enabled the government to imprison citizens thought to be dangerous to national security without charge, trial, or term set, under what Herbert Morrison, who administered the system during most of the war, described as ‘a terrible power’. Just under 2,000 individuals were so imprisoned in as gross an invasion of British civil liberty as could be conceived, only justifiable, if at all, by the grim necessity of the time. Imprisonment is of course commonplace, and is indeed the typical punishment imposed for serious breaches of the criminal law. But executive detention is designed to be employed in advance; hence detainees languish in prison not for what they have done, but for what they might do in the future if they remained at liberty. Also, detention is typically imposed as a result of an administrative decision, taken in private, by state officials, without any form of prior trial.

Keywords:   Britain, World War II, executive detention, imprisonment, punishment, national security, civil liberty, Regulation 18B, Herbert Morrison, criminal law

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