Tag Archives: drunk tank

A copper’s view of a typical Friday night – Part III

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

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.

A copper’s view of a typical Friday night – Part II

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

The man doesn’t walk 30 yards before he starts banging on the shutters of a closed bakery.  Although he is not banging hard enough to cause any kind of damage he is shouting extremely loudly that he wants a steak bake and once again, every other word is a profanity.

I know that I can’t let this continue and with a very heavy heart I head towards him knowing that I have no choice but arrest him.  He’s had enough chances and I can’t let him carry on like this.

As I approach him he starts to run or should that be stagger.  He repeatedly turns round and gives me various hand signals accompanied by more abuse until we catch up with him.  As I grab him he makes a half hearted effort to fight me off but in his intoxicated state all he manages to do is fall on the floor in a heap.  As I put him in handcuffs I caution him and tell him that he is under arrest for being drunk and disorderly.  In the state that he is in, I could not count his feeble attempts as “resisting arrest” which is a separate offence entirely.

The next job is to use my radio to call for someone to transport us (me, my colleague and the arrested male) to the Police Station.  Even though the station is only a few minutes walk away it is illegal for me to walk the prisoner there through the streets.

After receiving a lift to the Custody Suite, the booking in process begins.  The first thing I need to do is make a note of the time we arrive at the Police Station as this time plays part of what is known as the “custody clock” which relates to the amount of time someone can spend in custody along with determining when reviews of detention must be carried out.

As it is a Friday night and there are a number of people waiting to be booked in by the Custody Sergeant I have to remain with my prisoner for about 30 minutes.

During this delay I take all items of property from him along with his belt to prevent him from harming himself.  All of these items are recorded and placed into a bag which is sealed with a cable tie which has a unique number on it.  I don’t need to confiscate his shoe laces as his shoes are left outside of his cell.

I ask the prisoner if he would like to sign to confirm that I have placed all of his items in the bag however he tells me in no uncertain terms what I can do with my sheet and the bag.  My colleague countersigns my signature to confirm that I have placed all of the prisoner’s property into the bag and that he refused to sign when asked.

Eventually it is my turn to present the prisoner to the Custody Sergeant.  I outline brief details of the offence to the Custody Sergeant and the prisoner provides his name, address and date of birth (he actually is 23).  Often someone who is drunk or under the influence of drugs refuses to give their details until they have sobered up and until their details are ascertained they are entered into the system as “Uknown Unknwon”.

After answering a series of questions about his health, if he wants anyone informed of his detention and asking if he wants a solicitor (he does) his detention is authorised until he is sober enough to be dealt with.

Once the prisoner has been taken to his cell by a Detention Officer, the Custody Sergeant gives me the bad news.  My prisoner has a long record with a number of convictions including two in the last 6 months for being drunk and disorderly meaning that he is not eligible for a caution or Penalty Notice for Disorder and as such he will need to be charged to attend Court at some point in the future.  I am going to have a lot of paperwork to do before I get back out on the streets properly.

After arresting someone it is best practice to write up my statement as quickly as possible to prevent any accusations of tampering with or creating evidence.  At one time, the practice would have been to write the events up in my pocket note book and then write a statement based on that.  Common sense eventually prevailed and it was decided that writing a statement alone was good enough.

With my colleague we find a space and write up our statements.  Although it was a minor offence, the statements take up nearly 3 pages each.  If we miss anything out of the statements now, we can’t add to them at a later date without serious questions being asked so we have to be as thorough as possible.  You can imagine how long the statement would have been had he actually resisted arrest.

By Officer X

See Part III here.

A copper’s view of a typical Friday night – Part I

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

It’s a Friday night and I’m on night shift.  My shift officially starts at 10pm however at 9:40pm I am in my uniform with my radio and CS gas sitting in a briefing with the rest of my shift.

The briefing starts by covering any major overnight crime patterns such as a spate of burglaries or car thefts.  Next up is the list of people who are under curfew and who must be checked to ensure that they are at the correct address.  We will be informed of any “targets” to keep an eye out for.  These “targets” are usually prolific offenders who are often wanted on warrant, for breach of bail or are suspected as being involved in a crime and are to be arrested and interviewed about the offence if seen.

The final point is to tell me who I will be working with that night.  The Force has a “safe crewing” policy.  This means that my supervision (usually a Sergeant overseen by an Inspector) has made a risk assessment and decided whether it is safe for us to be on our own (single crewed) or teamed up with someone (double crewed).  As it’s a night shift, it is almost certain that everyone on the shift will be double crewed.

By 9:55pm on a normal night shift, the call would be made over the radio to “call the cars in”, in other words have the back shift return to the station to hand the cars over to the night shift.  The back shift are usually due to finish at midnight so the last two hours gives them a chance to catch up on their paperwork.

Tonight is a Friday night so, just like a Saturday night, the back shift are working until 3am in the cars whilst we patrol the town centre on foot providing a “high visibility” presence.  In other words, the big bosses know that it looks good in the press if Officers are patrolling on foot rather than sitting in cars all night.

The station is only five minutes walk from the town centre and soon a whole shift of around 16 Officers are patrolling along a half-mile stretch of road trying to stay warm and keeping an eye out for trouble.

Within 15 minutes I am waved over by a doorman (they do not like to be called “bouncers”) at a nightclub.  As I approach the club I can see and hear someone waving their arms and shouting at the staff.  One doorman tells me that they have refused entry to the man as he does not have any ID on him.  The man who looks like he is in his mid-teens is obviously not happy about this and my arrival does not calm him down.

He is obviously drunk and in between a LOT of swearing and with accompanying arm gestures, he tells me in no uncertain terms that his girlfriend is already in the club and that he should be allowed in to see her and they (the door staff) are threatening his relationship.

Although he already fits the criteria to allow me to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly ie he is in a public place, he is drunk and his behaviour is disorderly, I really don’t want to spoil his night just because he does not have any ID on him so I start out on my three stage course of action: ask, warn, then if all else fails, arrest.  About 9 times out of 10, this will defuse the situation without me having to arrest anyone and ruining someone’s night.

To begin with, I ask him to calm down and stop swearing.  He takes a deep breath and stops waving his arms about.  So far so good.  I ask him how old he is.  After another bout of swearing, he eventually tells me that he is 23 and holds up his fingers in case we don’t know what the numbers 2 and 3 look like, making sure that he makes the ‘V’ sign for the 2.

Although he is shouting, swearing and waving his arms again, he is not really bothering anyone or getting in anyone’s way so I go to the next step in an attempt to diffuse the situation.  “I’ve asked you to stop swearing and calm down, now I’m telling you, stop swearing and calm down or you will be arrested”.  That’s the warning and hopefully that will make him see that it really is time to calm down.

He looks me and my colleague up and down and appears to accept that he is not going to get in to the club tonight.  As he walks away he glances over his should and tells us: “I pay your wages, this is a disgrace”.

Ah, the old “I pay your wages” line.  If I had a penny for every time I had heard that one I would have retired after a year in the job.  There are always comebacks to that line however I have always found it best just to ignore it completely as it only fans the flames and every now and then you get a bona fide comedian who just makes you look stupid.

By Officer X

See Part II here