Just Another Night…

This is a real night shift. The content is, understandably, depersonalised in order to stop any associations being made.

I’m in uniform and ready to leave for work. The kids have had their dinner and I’ve just plated up my wife’s. Littlest is tired and getting grumpy. He is ready for a bath and bed by 7pm. The house was tidy before I collected the kids from school. It now resembles some sort of bomb site. Too late now to do anything about it. I glance at my watch and begin to get impatient that wifey isn’t home.

Wifey arrives and pulls her car onto the drive. I grab my bag, say goodbye to the kids and walk down the drive to my car, grabbing a kiss from wifey on the way.. “Your dinner is on the side in the kitchen. I’ll see you in the morning”. Passing like ships in the night she enters the world of family chaos after a day at work and I leave for a world of chaos that comes with a Friday night in custody.

Arrive at the gate, swipe my card and drive into the secure car park.

Guiltly walk through the airlock and into the secure custody area. I like to be earlier but the guys know and accept that wifey will have been working and it’s always a close call on weekday nights. The handover to one of my two fellow sgts is well underway and the other has already started the cell checks to make sure everyone is alive and well. The charge area is busy with staff arriving, staff leaving and officers lingering waiting for decisions or to go to interview. I drop my bag in the back office say hello to the 3 detention officers we have working with us tonight then back out to the desk. The day staff are full of smiles and heading off.

Sit at my desk, turn on the computer, log on and then fire up the custody software. Whilst this progresses I take in the view on the manual whiteboards. We have 5 in custody of which 2 are remand cases for the Saturday court and 3 are PACE matters. An officer who has been stood at the desk waiting approaches me. “Are you free Sarge?” I sigh, give him a withering look and point out that I’ve just sat down and have risk assessments to do and get settled first. He realise’s his folly, apologises and vanishes into the back office for a bit.

Two of the current 5 detainees are allocated to me. The risk assessments are done quite quickly and are now complete. The eager officer has returned but takes his chances with one of my colleagues. He begins to discuss his theft case. The Sgt groans as he realises there is this job to sort out but there are also charges authorised on 2 other custody records for which this person is already on bail for. A detention officer brings all 3 of us a drink. I turn to my other colleague who is free and we exchange a few words. They are disturbed by the gate buzzer. We both look to the cameras.. “He we go” he says.

First new arrest of the night. The escort officer has asked for a welcoming committee. I go out to the van dock with 2 detention officers and the other free Sgt. We have picked up gloves and some limb restraints on the way and the DO’s have grabbed a spit hood. The escort officer gives us a quick briefing on the state of his passenger then opens the door. The male is about 40 years old. He is drunk and is a state of dishabille. He is shouting and yelling at us. The internal gate is opened up and he is asked to step out. Abuse is all that we get in response. After some work he stands up and tells us how he can take us all out if he wants to. He steps out of the van and as soon as I and a DO take hold of his arms he becomes aggressive and tries to headbutt the escort officer. We all end up in a melee with him ending up on the floor face down. Limb restraints are applied to his legs and he is escorted through the holding area and to the charge desk. He continues to hurl abuse at us. Spit and snot are dribbling from his nose and mouth and he is totally drunk. He can stand and walk unaided but at present this is difficult for him due to the restraints.

Any attempt to book this person into custody in the traditional manner is pointless. He is taken straight to a cell and a well practiced tactic is put into effect. As we cannot establish any current risks of self harm he is stripped of all clothing and left with safety alternatives. The tactic ends with him being pinned down by one officer who is then pulled out of the cell backwards by his belt. The cell door is then slammed shut. We are out and door closed before the DP can get on his feet and turn around.

I walk back to the desk, remove my gloves and reach for the anti-bacterial hand gel. I then go back to my workstation. I’m hot, sweaty and turn to my colleagues. “It’s too early to be that pissed. I have a bad feeling about tonight.” My colleague books in our drunken male with some limited information and using our systems we find out who he is and can visit old custody records to see how he has behaved in the past and any medical issues he may have.

Officers return from interview on a sexual offence matter. I’m the only Sgt free and so they update me on their case and that they want to bail for further enquiries. I go through the case with them and what enquiries are needed to satisfy myself that bail is appropriate. Once happy bail is suitable I then go through safety factors with the officers to establish if we need any conditions on the bail to protect the victim or prevent further offences.

Sexual offence matter is bailed. I have to explain the conditions of bail fully, why they are necessary and ensure they are fully understood. He is then released and the officers will take him home. The other Sgt has finished the drunk booking in and the other is up to his ears in typing up charges and disposals on 3 custody records. This DP is going nowhere and will go to court in the morning.

I ring upstairs and check who we have working in custody investigation tonight. I have 1 police officer and 1 police staff investigation officer until 10pm then nobody. They are currently with CPS with one detainee for a domestic matter and the other is on his break. Open email and read / delete those that have arrived. Mouthful of tea.

Gate buzzer. Van arrives with two new arrests. Colleague books in one for theft and I book in another for drink driving.

My drink driver is quite apathetic to the whole reason for detention. Booking in is complete. He has arrived with a police staff escort officer. The arresting officer has not come with him. With no trained PC upstairs I have to do the intox procedure myself.

Intox complete. Driver has blown high nineties. He will be here for some time to sober up. Theft matter booked in by colleague is straightforward but DP is very drunk, albeit cooperative, so will need to sober up. By state of intoxication of both it’s likely to be the morning before they are processed. Total up to 7.

Phone ringing. BCU advise two juveniles coming in for theft of moped. First brew has gone cold. Make a fresh one. Chat with colleagues.

One of original PACE DP’s comes out of interview. A burglary offence that the burglary team are dealing with. Colleague deals. Seems there are a lot of offences to clear up. He will be bedded down overnight and go for a drive around in the morning under escort.

Gate buzzer. Van arrives with two on board. Van pulls into dock. We expect the juveniles but adults get out.

Gate buzzer. Car arrives with the two juveniles.

Each Sgt takes a DP each. One juvenile waiting in holding. Total up to 11. We are booking in a drunk and disorderly, a domestic assault ( also drunk ) and the juvenile moped theft.

I have booked in Juvenile. Arresting officer advises that parents know of arrest but aren’t interested. States social services will have to act as AA. There are enquiries to be completed in relation to moped so interview won’t be immediate. Colleague has finished booking in assault and takes final juvenile that was waiting.

Ring social services. Advise of two juv’s in custody who will need their help later. Purpose just to forewarn. Told they have staffing difficulties and may not be able to provide anyone. Make numerous suggestions we haven’t tried hard enough with parents and immediate family.

Female public order arrives. Welcome committee needed. My one female DO and another go out to meet escort officer. DP does not offer violence. Booked into custody by me. Absolutely leathered but persists in telling me every two seconds in an intoxicated slur that she is not drunk and we should just let her go. “I’ve done nuffink wrong”. DP becomes tearful then swings to angry again. DP taken to cell. Has self harm risks and needs safety clothing. Volunteers clothing without argument. Cell door closes and immediately activates cell call intercom.

FTA warrant matter arrives. Booked in by colleague. Phone ringing off hook.

Public order female demands to see DR as she suffers with sleep problems and needs medication. Has no meds with her and is nothing we can prescribe. Have to book her to see nurse regardless albeit know what result will be. DP told what we are doing but continually presses intercom button and repeats her demands over and over again.

Car arrives. New arrest. Domestic related assault and damage. Walked into custody by officers cuffed to rear. Shouting and swearing. Colleague try’s to book in. I put gloves on and casually loiter nearby should he kick off. Tells Sgt we are all “twats” but has to be out by 7am latest. When told this is unlikely to happen states it will be our fault he loses his job and access to his children

Last male becomes increasingly agitated. Taken to cell. Needs safety clothing. Volunteers clothing but negotiation process avoiding using force takes some time. Total now 14.

Phone stops. Cell call and entry system continually beeping and chiming. Last male now banging on cell door. Bawling at us that we are responsible for all his problems.

Investigation staff who have been with CPS return with result. CPS refuse to charge and want a number of meaningless enquiries completing before they will make a decision. Bail DP then staff say their good nights and retire from duty.

A lull. No new persons arriving. Cell call still constantly chiming and drunk male stops banging only to resume again a few minutes later. Fresh brew. Actually drink whole brew. Read force orders and check POLKA updates.

Suite temporarily falls quiet. Sgts chatting. Supt pops in to say hello. Obvious impression is we have 13 well behaved DP’s and 3 Sgts twiddling their thumbs!!

Supt sits and has brew with us and tells us of the latest news/rumours from HQ on staffing reductions and possible shift changes… all gloomy news.

Supt leaves

Drunk make arrives for fight outside pub. Bloody nose, cuts & grazes and wearing no shirt. Remains cuffed at desk with officers on either side whilst I book in. Aggressive and between the two escorting PC’s says one is “alright” and the other is a “f’ing c#*t”. Continually repeats statement to officer and despite intervention will not behave. Nurse called to desk to quickly assess nose before lodging in cell.

Nurse happy no major concerns. DP to cell and as unable to RA properly is stripped of clothing and given safety alternatives.

Last DP is naked. Has lay mattress on floor by door and is lay upon it on his back kicking door with both feet. Total still 14.

3 Romanian shoplifters arrive. Two adults and one juvenile. None speak English. All three booked in using telephone interpreter service. All claim to be from an out of force address. Enqs will be set up to do address verification and S18 searches. They will be here all night and most of tomorrow.

Call from OIC for juvenile moped matter is ready to interview. Social Services have nobody available until at least 1am. Also state that at that time they would be unwilling to support us whilst we interview juveniles who should be sleeping. No choice but to bed them both down on 8hr rest period.

Continue with booking in process of Romanian shoplifter. Total now 17.

Romanian matter complete.

Colleague books in male for possessing cocaine. Has been at fancy party and is in dinner jacket and bow tie. Attitude is one of scorn and how dare we arrest him for a tiny bit of coke.

Shirtless male has fell asleep. Will not wake/rouse for DO. Join at cell. DP not responsive to voice commands. Pain stimulus applied and finally a reaction is obtained. Referred to nurse to check obs.

Cocaine man states he doesn’t feel well. Nurse will see him too.

Cocaine chap admits to taking several other unknown tablets. Nurse requests A&E. Another drink driver arrives. Colleague books in. I make calls to arrange for ambulance and escort for cocaine man.

Ambulance arrives at gate. Outside Sgt rings and questions decision to send to hospital. He has no staff and cannot afford to lose 2 staff to an escort. Advised accordingly. Not happy but says he will do best to find staff. Total now 18.

Break. Escape to car. Send some tweets. Snooze.

3 more have arrived whilst I’ve been on break and two are waiting in holding. Other Sgt goes for break. Cocaine man has gone to hospital and is still there. Shirtless male checked out and is fine. Just heavy sleeper/intox.

One of new arrivals is banging on cell door and shouting for Carol. Becomes apparent that Carol is being booked in by colleague who despite being told not to is shouting back to him telling him how much she loves him. Cell call continually chiming. Down to 2 DO’s as one on refs. Book in new arrest. Burglary. Sober and a career thief. Deals with custody with equanimity.

Colleague now tied up with obtaining signatures for intimate samples and coordinating with officers and solicitor to obtain consent for rape matter that came in whilst I was on break.

Phone ringing off hook. Cell call chiming. Carol and John still exchanging shouted words of affection. Another still banging door. Cacophony of noise becoming unbearable. Burglar complete and is lodged in cell.

Book in last DP from holding. Drunk. Domestic assault matter. Dp answers all risk assessment answers flippantly. Unable to determine risks from answers he gives. Argumentative and angry. Remains cuffed at desk. PNC shows risk of self harm. Also known alcoholic, schizophrenic and suffers epilepsy. A difficult combination. Taken to cell. Due to demeanour and aggression tactic used to remove clothing. Total now 23. Gate buzzer sounds during this process. A van has arrived with another two and advises the car behind it has one on too.

3 in holding. Finish booking in and risk assessment of last DP based on information we already know about him.

Colleague takes first DP from holding. Drink driver. He will have to do intox himself. I take another for public order. Drunk. This one suffers from depression, alcoholism, diabetes and has DVT’s. Is a known drug user. He’s done nothing wrong.. If I were to believe him. He makes demands to see Dr immediately. When asked why states he has not had his medications for 3 days. Can never understand urgency to see Dr when in custody when they have so little care for themselves when outside. Overall visual assessment shows he is drunk but also high as a kite. Booked in for nurse to check obs. DP states he is going to kill himself.

Colleague goes to intox procedure. Drunk / drugged male to cell. Hands over clothing voluntarily. Safety alternates provided.

Colleague still doing intox. Finalise custody record for last DP and brief nurse who is about to start intimate samples. She triages DP quickly before she starts.

Book in last remaining DP. Juvenile. 14 years. Very drunk. Full of self and arrogant. Calls me all sorts of names. Found in possession of drugs. Strip search needed to ensure no other drugs concealed. No AA present but urgent need so goes ahead anyway. 3rd Sgt returns from refs and goes with DO to search whilst I continue with custody record.

Loud banging coming from where last drunk was lodged. View CCTV. DP is thrashing head against door. Shout for a DO and run to cell. Check hatch then open door. DP makes no attempt to fight but steps away and sits down on mattress. Spend 10 mins talking with him and trying to calm down. Agitated but given water to drink and talking seems to help. He apologises for behaviour but is tearful. DO placed on level 4 close prox obs at cell door.

Back at desk. Strip search was negative. Juv remains in cell and colleague books nurse to see him re drugged state. I book nurse for possible head injury for male on close prox obs. He is alert and talking happily with DO. Nurse hasn’t started intimate samples due to rush of other calls and is working her way through them. First is Sgt on intox who has progressed to blood.

Sgt finishes intox and spends next 20 mins sorting out the samples, putting in fridge and finalising that custody record. Other Sgt is booking in another new arrest. A public order offence. DP very drunk and likely to need a mental health assessment when sober. Behaviour very bizarre. Total now 27.

Have spent time reviewing all current custody records and those booked in for nurse. Have revisited head banging make in cell. Still talkative and calm. Seems he just needs someone to talk to to keep himself together. Juvenile refuses to come out of cell. Go with nurse and DO and she checks him over in the cell. He’s fine and just needs to sober up… and find some manners!

Sgt finishes his intox and gets permission from Insp to finish early. He has done 9hrs solid without a break.

Lull in proceedings. DO makes a brew and two remaining Sgts check all custody records. Cross T’s and dot I’s to ensure all are correct and no omissions. Noisy DP’s are slowly nodding off.

Chase patrol at hospital for update. Dp has seen Dr but is having tests done and being kept for a while for observations. Unlikely to be back before 7am.

Two arrive for going equipped. Van chased from area of many burglaries. Abandoned and occupants made off. Helicopter above. One gave self up. Other hid in a stream. Is soaking wet and shivering. Van found to have power tools, head torches, gloves, balaclavas and other burgling kit. Colleague books one in. The other waits in holding so they cannot communicate.

First male finished and given clean dry clothing. I book in second male. Sober and compliant. Total now 29.

All booked in. Close prox has seen nurse and is now asleep. Reduce to level 3 obs. Complete handover for day staff.

Check PER forms for those remanded for court and sign off as correct.

Dog tired. Peace reigns in the suite. Every DP sleeping.

New arrest. Night team have done early morning knock for a warrant. DP has FTA at court. Colleague books in and I do PER whilst DO informs court escort contractor of one more to move to court.

All done and winding down to end of shift.

Gate buzzer. New arrest. Drink driver. Has been stopped on way to work and still blown over from night before. Heart sinks. Last thing we need. Exacerbated further when comes in to find he is Polish. Reluctantly commence book in procedure.

Colleague has completed handover to day staff. I have got Polish male booked in using telephone interpreter. PC upstairs in investigation team has arrived a little early and volunteers to do the intox procedure. Total 31

Grab bag and coat and head for car. Sit in car, start engine and take a deep breath. Tired.

Tune in radio 4 and commence the most dangerous part of the shift. The drive home.

Climb into bed just as wife gets out. Spend 30 mins slowly winding down and allowing sleep to creep up on me.

Send #duvettweet turn off phone and turn over to sleep knowing that I’m on again in 11 hours, it’s a Saturday night and likely to be just as busy.


11 thoughts on “Just Another Night…”

  1. What a fascinating insight into your work. All seems very organised. I’ll think of the blog next time I’m sitting in court and have to deal with the end process. Thank you.

  2. You don’t realise it but trust me, it’s time for you to get out of there and back on the streets because you are starting to become stir crazy. You have slipped into the mindset that you (and your role) is the most important and demanding role – it isn’t, it’s the wooden tops at the sharp end, you simply process their work in a sanitised and controlled environment. I do recognise through some of your comments, thoughts and frustrations exactly how I was after three years permanent custody. When I (reluctantly) went back out onto the streets it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders – I didn’t realise how much I needed to get out of there until I was out (if that makes sense)

    1. It does make sense. I work with a brilliant team. If not for them the job would become unbearable very very quickly. I certainly don’t see myself as the most important and demanding role. Important yes; but only the sense that it is one important section of the whole process from arrest to court. Demanding yes; different demand than that faced by outside patrols but demanding nevertheless.

      The dept suits me at the moment tbh. With young family and wifey working knowing what time I start and what time I finish is vital.

  3. You guys do an amazing job.
    I used to be an ICV for the met, and some visits took nearly 4 hours! Others only took 45 minutes.
    It’s Definitley an interesting environment.

    1. Our ICV’s do a great job. Oddly I really enjoy when we are busy and they have to wait for staff. They come in and just observe how crazy it can sometimes be! Greater understanding of the roles we all play in the CJS would no doubt benefit us all.

    1. There is a room but the chairs, I think, are specifically designed to keep you awake and there is always somebody watching something awful on the TV. I prefer the peace. 🙂

  4. Sounds exactly the same as my last Friday night shift …. with one exception …. a supt in the building at 2300 hours!?!?!?, I’m lucky if I can find an Inspector at that time of night!!

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