Yesterday I had a thoroughly frustrating day. I had to change a shift in order to arrest someone who is in prison to speak to them about further offences committed. Initially this involves completing nonsensical forms to have the prisoner ‘produced’ so he can be taken to a Police Station in order to be interviewed with the protection of PACE. I would have thought it would have been better to have the legislation to allow us to talk to him in prison, but there you are simple solutions seem never to find favour.

Having collected our man, after a 90 minute drive to get to the prison we drove to the Police Station. Only one Police Sergeant to look after 22 prisoners. There used to be more but since we all have to save money we can’t have so many. Now, sergeants are the people with power under PACE. There are functions that only they can do. The custody personnel do a lot of the booking procedures (Group 4 employees i.e. private enterprise) but they cannot authorise detention. This has to happen before anything else can be done. So, myself and a colleague, a handcuffed prisoner and an appropriate adult wait for an hour, yes an hour, to have a sergeant explain the prisoners rights explained to him.

The right to have someone told you are here, the right to free and independent legal advice and the right to consult the codes of practice covering police powers and procedures, you may do any of these things now but if you do not you may do so at any time during your detention.

A short discussion (45 seconds) about why we need to have the prisoner there at all then ‘detention authorised’.

An interview that lasted 33 minutes and 36 seconds.

Waiting for the custody sergeant to grant a technical bail to our prisoner so we can take him back to the prison from which he came. Yes more waiting.

Three hours to get to prison and back, half an hour for the interview, the rest of my 9 hour shift was spent waiting for the custody sergeant to find time to authorise detention and grant bail. My time wasted, my colleague too. The appropriate adult who had to sit in the interview with our young man (he was a juvenile) was an unpaid volunteer who wasted his day standing (no seats for anyone) in the custody block. The young man, even though he was not the nicest type and already under sentence should not be treated like this either. When I investigate I have to do so expeditiously otherwise the behaviour can be seen as oppressive / intimidating.

No-one concerned wanted to be at the custody block, but it was something that had to be done. The prisoner co-operated in that he did not complain or become difficult, even in the absence of a meal as no-one had time to feed him. All because it is so important to save money. I would argue that the prisoners right to be dealt with expeditiously and fairly are more important than the need to reduce cost. This is a human being who for whatever reason finds himself in trouble. Should he be treated like some kind of cattle?

When I arrived at the custody centre a female officer was waiting to interview a young man. His father had turned up to be appropriate adult. They were there before me. They were still there after me.

It would appear that our society has reached a point where money is more important than people, despite our whingeing about human rights abuses elsewhere.

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Comments
  1. Don’t tell me that you’ve only just realised the point you make in your last sentence about money being more important than people? I don’t think you are quite so slow off the mark as that.

    Don’t you know the UK (and the US for that matter) has a perfect society, while all these ill-educated undemocratic countries are the only ones that abuse people?

    When I was a young teenager I had the fantasy of wanting to live in Polynesia. I think it may have been a smart move had I made a bit more effort to carry it out. (Bit too much of a fish-based diet but apart from that…..)

    • Funny, same dream, … I read Thor Hyerdal’s Fatu Hiva, idyllic.

      No I do know but the impact on everyday services is now starting to affect ME!!! That’s not right is it?

      My own force to be fair aren’t that bad which shows how people are treated is just down to a post code lottery, and that doesn’t just apply to the NHS

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