Part 2 – Custody Duties – My Shift on 18/07/2012

I wrote part 1 of this Blog yesterday and said that I would be writing a further one at a later date. When I said that I was not intending to write this one so soon but after a shift that I can only describe as mental last night I felt that I should strike whilst the iron is hot.

Yesterday I worked from 14:00 to 23:00 hrs in a custody suite that holds 16 prisoners. The building itself is old fashioned and does not have the luxury of intercom links between the cell and charge desk. Instead it has old fashioned buzzers that have to be answered by walking down the corridor to personally visit the cell. My shift yesterday saw me experience a mixture of worry, anger, frustration, hunger, as well as happiness. I can’t forget to add the bucket loads of constant stress!

14:00 – Briefing

Having unpacked my lunch box, put my epaulettes and given my colleague some stick for making a grade A cock up the shift before its time for briefing. The Custody Sergeant, my colleague and I are stood in the back office and the early turn Custody Sergeant walks in looking hot and bothered and very stressed. Great I am thinking to myself, today is going to be hard work! I get a run down of each prisoner in custody and damn they are a needy bunch!

14:30 – And We Are Off

My team are stood behind the Charge Desk talking and before I even get the chance to say who is making the tea I spot on the CCTV screen a prisoner on 30 minute visits fall to the floor and start having a seizure. Remember how I was stressing the importance of cell visits in part 1 of this Blog!!! Grabbing some rubber gloves my colleague and I run to the cell and enter. I support the head allowing the woman to have the seizure before putting her in the recovery position and monitoring her breathing etc. An Ambulance had been called by someone at the Charge Desk.

The woman was a Heroin addict who was also a Alcoholic. She was HIV Positive, had Hep C and was Epileptic. I had my hands full. You may or may not have seen my tweets yesterday about targeting drugs. I made a #PeelPromise to terrorise drug dealers, to harass and stalk them and to put them out of business. For the drug user I promised to deal with them professionally and where I can get them the help they need. I will explain why.

I was sat next to this woman who was now stable. I was waiting to support her head again should she have another seizure. Kneeling down in high leg Magnum boots starts to hurt after a few minutes. As my colleague and I assessed her I could see her filthy hands, she had dirty finger nails and dirty palms. As I looked at her I could see her dirty clothes that had never seen a washing machine. Her arms were covered in cigarette burns where a abusive partner had burned her, and she had puncture marks all over her arms where she had been injecting. Her ankles and lower part of her legs were purple and black and they too were full of puncture marks. It was vile to look at. Seeing this reminded me of the sad reality of drugs and I could not help but think what a tragic waste of life. This was someones daughter, sister and for all I knew someones mother! Anyway she was taken to hospital and admitted. I may in the future Blog about Drugs and Associated Crime.

As all of this is going on one of our regulars was really starting to pardon my French piss me off! He was a local alcoholic who had handed himself in as he had been shoplifting earlier that day. He only did this as he wanted a bed for the night, some food and of course some Diazapam from the HCP! He had been in custody less than an hour and I think he thought he was the only person in custody as he repeatedly buzzed demanding food and drink. Get stuffed fella, tea time is not until 18:00hrs and I have more urgent things to do like saving a life!

Anyway after the sick woman had gone to hospital I was kept very busy by our resident alcoholic who was buzzing every five minutes and being abusive as he was hungry. He kept kicking and punching his cell door and calling me some not very nice things. At the same time I had two convicted robbers who funnily enough had been arrested for robbery again! The two robbers were demanding phone calls and kept asking despite being told I would fit them in as and when I could.

Whilst I am running around to the point my white shirt was sticking to my back the Custody Sergeant and my colleague were adding to my workload by booking in more prisoners! I was required to assist them with taking fingerprints, photo’s and where needed DNA. As this happened buzzers continued, my temper got shorter and shorter and eventually I snapped! I slam the shutter down on the alcoholics cell and ask him his problem. he replies by saying, “I WANT FOOD YOU C~~T”. I lose it and say that I am far too busy to worry about him and his food and that he will be fed at tea time like everyone else and that he should wind his neck in otherwise when I do get round to food he will be at the back of the queue. At that point I could not have cared less about his food or if I had upset him. He was annoying and I had far more urgent things to do. If he did not like it he should not have committed crime was my attitude. Anyway he carried on buzzing and the Custody Sergeant gave him more or less the same reply as me.

To cut a long story short I feed everyone at tea time. I have not stopped between tea time and starting work. I get abuse from the two robbers when I offer them food as they have not had their very important phonecalls. They ask how come I have time to cook food and not give them their calls.

Between tea time and 20:00hrs I had to put up with more moaning, abuse and threats. The alcoholic demanded more food. FORGET IT!!! I at some point managed to squeeze phone calls in for the two robbers, NOT that my efforts were appreciated. I do not normally let people get to me but these two robbers did. I was so pleased when they were both charged and remanded. It bought a smile to my face. I had the last laugh as I went home leaving them behind.

All of a sudden it went quiet. The two remanded robbers went to sleep, we released a number of Ā prisoners and although the alcoholic would keep buzzing (although longer between buzzes) I managed to find two minutes for myself to use a toilet. What a luxury I thought, never have I been so happy to see a toilet before. Having had that short release I sat down and wrote a few tweets. The alcoholic buzzed AGAIN. Having calmed down I started thinking that I may have been out of order by snapping at him. The environment I was in had altered my behaviour so when I opened the hatch I spoke with the man, as I had time to. I explained that I had been very busy and that he had not helped by repeated buzzing when all he wanted was food. He knew how it worked as he was no stranger to custody. I then said sorry to him. My colleagues asked me why I had done that as he had been a “pain in the arse”. I accept that he has issues but that should not effect me. Anyway the alcoholic went to sleep, but not until he had a bloody good moan about wanting an extra pillow, another blanket, a cup of tea and wanting to move to a different cell as he did not like that one. He got a cup of tea and that was his lot!

Having cleaned out recently vacated cells, and finally getting to drink a cup of tea that had not gone cold I did a few visits and boy was I pleased to see the welcoming site of the night shift. We handed over three prisoners having had a clear out and I tell you what I was out of that custody suite like a rat up a drain pipe. Having had a hard set of shifts I had forgotten that today (the day after) was my two days off!! How do you forget something like that? I will tell you, being over worked and understaffed, being seriously stressed and wound up and being tired.

I said yesterday that Custody was hard work and if this snap shot of nine hours of hell yesterday does not bring that home to you I would encourage you to where possible get some experience in this vital department. To the arresting / interviewing officers out there please remember that if you are kept waiting that it will be for a good reason and whilst you may get time to sit at a desk or in a canteen to eat your lunch those in custody, like me yesterday often end up working straight through and end up taking their uneaten lunch home with them at the end of the shift!!!

Thank you for reading.