It’s now 11:45pm and I have a decision to make. Before my shift finishes at 7am tomorrow morning I have to complete all of the paperwork for the prosecution of my prisoner and get a copy of the CCTV from the camera control room. He won’t be ready to charge until about 5:30 or 6 which means I have plenty of time to complete it but it is a Friday night and I can’t spend my whole night dealing with something as minor as a drunk and disorderly case so I am going to have to manage my time well as I would need exceptional circumstances to claim overtime for dealing with this.
We grab a quick cup of tea and head back into the town centre. The pubs have just kicked out and along with the rest of my shift we try to keep an eye on the taxi queues, nightclub queues and everyone else just milling around trying to decide what to do. We are lucky in that the town centre is covered by CCTV with operators who are really on the ball. They call us in on any trouble brewing and usually just the sight of the uniform is enough to settle things down.
In some larger towns, the Council along with the pubs and clubs pay for “Taxi Marshalls” but we are not so lucky. Taxi Marshalls are usually made up of private security staff (door staff) and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and Police Officers who are working overtime. These Marshalls keep an eye on taxi queues and the surrounding area in an attempt to prevent fights from occurring.
For a Friday night, things are relatively quiet, there are a couple of arrests for possession of drugs and drunk and disorderly but not as many as usual for a Friday night.
Around 1:30am the call comes out for my shift to “take the cars over”. As we don’t want to suddenly leave the Town Centre bereft of Officers, this is an act carried out with almost military precision. The back shift Officers will drive into the town centre and hand over the cars to us while they gather in a van which will take them back to the Station. For my shift it is a chance to finally warm up after hours patrolling and for the back shift it is a chance to get back and catch up on their paperwork. It is important that this is done well before 2am when the next wave of revellers will strike.
Fortunately for me, there are no nightclubs with late licenses in the town so the last one closes at 2 and by 2:30 everyone has gone home. After a quick bite to eat it is nearly 3am and time to start preparing the paperwork for my arrest.
As the only offence was being drunk and disorderly there is no need to interview the prisoner which is one less thing to worry about however, a “file of evidence” has to be completed before I leave and that will still take 1-2 hours at least as long as there are no interruptions.
I will have to complete a number of forms all starting with the letters “MG”. As this is an “expedited” file for a straightforward offence, I can skip a few of these for now and only worry about them if he pleads not guilty when he appears at Court.
First of all there is the MG3 which is a report to the prosecutor. Some of this is automatically completed when the person is charged however there are still parts for me to complete. Already printed in this report are the person’s name, and date of birth, the case unique reference number and the date of the person’s first Court appearance if they have not been remanded in custody. I add to this details of which forms I have included in the file along with any “points of note” I have for the prosecutor. In this case I will advise that I have obtained CCTV evidence of the offence which my colleague kindly picked up when I was preparing the file.
The MG4 is the charge sheet which is automatically generated when the person is charged. Before being charged, the prisoner is cautioned again and after being charged they are asked if they have anything to say. Usually, there will be no reply to charge as this can be used as evidence against them however there is always one who thinks it is funny to reply “stop hitting me, I’ll admit anything you say” knowing that this will be recorded and read out in Court. Fortunately, the Courts are wise to this and in the case of a jury trial, Judges have been known to advise the jury to disregard such a comment or refuse to allow this to be read out at all unless there is a genuine belief that the accused has been assaulted.
Next up is the MG5 which is a summary of the case. As all details of the case are included in the statements of me and my colleague I can skip this. If I had interviewed him or the case was more complicated details would be added here.
Then comes the dreaded MG6s. There are 5 different MG6 forms in total appended with the letters A-E. Each form contains confidential information including Officer’s disciplinary records, lists of sensitive material and details of anything that might assist the defence or undermine the prosecution. As this should be a straight forward case I only need to complete the MG6A stating that there is no confidential material to disclose at this stage of the case.
As there is no need to request that the prisoner be remanded in custody I do not need to complete the MG7 “Remand Request Form”.
I add the statements (MG11s) completed by myself and my colleague and then add a printout of the prisoner’s previous convictions. Fortunately I am one of the two people on my shift who can actually print this out. Although everyone on the shift can view previous convictions, cost issues mean that only a select few on the shift can actually print them out.
Having to print out previous convictions for all of the other 14 people in the cells awaiting charge takes me nearly 45 minutes but it is something my colleagues rely on me for so there is nothing I can do about it. The only other person who can do this is currently in interview so I also print out the previous convictions of her prisoner too while I am at it.
The final form I complete is the MG20 Further Information Report. On this report I advise the prosecutor that in addition to the town centre CCTV, CCTV will be available at the club for a further 28 days should it be required and that my colleague has the details of the door staff involved should statements be required from them too.
These statements are not taken as routine for a simple drunk and disorderly case due to the sheer quantity and time it would take. An average Friday or Saturday night will see somewhere between 15 and 30 arrests for drunkenness offences so as well as employing a “statement taking” team to deal with this, it would mean that there would be no staff left to cover the doors. Besides, as most of the people involved in these cases plead guilty at Court there is no need for additional statements.
By Officer X
See Part IV soon.