My view from the Police Interview Room, by Tracey McMahon
Image from West Midlands Police
I’ve always had an interest in law and the wheels of justice. I’ve watched crime dramas such as The Bill, Prime Suspect and a plethora of television programmes. I have commented on many forums reviewing such shows. I’ve read court reports, followed high profile cases and shouted with the rest of them when a case which raises hackles is presented to the public by the media. I can tell you first-hand that being on the wrong side of the law is nothing as it portrayed by drama serials.
I am known as an offender. This is the modern-day; politically correct term for a criminal. I’ve had my name in the press, on Twitter, on Facebook and well, I wouldn’t be surprised if my name doesn’t crop up on some people’s lips as they have their morning cup of tea. Particularly those who I have done harm to; my family.
I was never arrested as procedures have now changed. I was ‘invited’ to attend the police station on a voluntary basis. Had I not accepted this invitation then I would likely have been arrested and brought in for questioning. Off I marched at 10.00am on Monday 12 March to my police interview, dressed as if I was going to be sitting on the board of a global conglomerate.
My police interview room was a small room without a window. The devil inside me tells me it’s so we cannot escape. I remember the smell too; a musty smell that permeated through me. I did feel dirty and I saw evidence of other people who had been there before me etched into the table. The police officer who interviewed me was respectful, kind and guided me through the list of allegations which had been made against me. I had an A4 piece of paper with my rights listed placed in front of me as they were read out to me. The officer placed the tapes into the huge machine and introduced herself and asked me my name, my date of birth and my ethnic origin. Then she proceeded with the interview and I answered the questions accordingly. Looking back I was foolish. I was of the mind and it is a myth, “I’ve done nothing wrong therefore why would I need a solicitor’ I’ve since learned to take everything that is your right. This is not to say that I don’t trust the police, I do. It’s purely and simply to protect each person who is being questioned. It also protects the police. We all know that we are now living in a litigious society, any person can say anything and while everything is taped, words can still become a matter of ambiguity.
I was calm, yet upset. I don’t think any person could ever possibly anticipate what it is like to be questioned about allegations that have been made against you. How many times do we hear the words ‘I was treated like I was a criminal?’ I was treated as a human being; this is what I am and still am. In fact no person becomes a ‘criminal’ until the day they are The interview took around an hour and then I was taken for my fingerprints and my photograph. I was expecting it to be like it is on those American shows, with a board in front of you. It is not like that. It’s like being in a hospital x-ray department. Couple of snaps and you’re done. I even had my lip gloss on. If I’m going to be in the depths of a Police National Computer, you can be sure I am going to look my best. I was scared, frightened and feeling as though I wanted my dad. It’s daunting and just writing about the experience has made me feel the same sense of emotion and fear I felt on that day. After the fingerprinting and photograph session, I was taken past the custody suite (The word suite still makes me smile now) where I saw a pair of trainers outside a door. I found myself staring at those trainers and wondering who was behind the large, heavy door.
I was waiting for the words which I knew were ultimately coming: “We will send the tapes to the CPS who will make a decision on whether you will be charged. You can now go. We will be in touch”
Then the purgatory begins…
By Tracey McMahon
About the author: Tracey McMahon is a 45 year, copy writer/transcriber/translator. She’s also a contributor on ex-offender.co.uk. She is a convicted offender and is currently serving her sentence.