With yet another night shift underway almost as soon as the radio goes on, one of the first comments I hear comes from custody.
There is no room and board. No vacancies. No B & B on the Queen. All rooms are taken. We do not have the luxury of a spare stable to put the masses so any volunteers for some overnight porridge will have to travel.
No sooner have the words from the custody skipper faded away, then the first of the calls of some form of public disorder arrive to replace them. Followed swiftly behind come the domestics originating from people who cannot sort out their lives, alarm calls, burglary in progress and a Road Traffic Collision formerly known as an RTA.
I can already picture the festive disorderly nativity scene, especially the animals in the stalls all drunk, shouty and non-compliant as they test the knowledge of both response and the overworked custody staff with the general knowledge round of trying to understand the details and theories they give as well the specialist knowledge subject round of why and what powers have been used to arrest them.
The roles are reversed, for a time, where they are the ones asking all the questions about what we are going to charge them with, why are we arresting them as they never done nuffin, how long till they get bail etc etc etc. All this and they never even cautioned us. We politely answer all of their questions before moving positively forward to remind them that we are going to do what we say and there is nothing they can do about it once the decision is made, despite denials to the contrary. Apparently we would never take them in. On these occasions they were mistaken.
They are going to look really stupid on the custody CCTV in the morning when they are sober.
With the first arrest subdued and secure, loud drunken shouts and threats accompany the request for the next space.
The City has spaces but they think there will be a three hander on the way any moment now. The next enquiry reveals that the closest available space will be two divisions away and at least an hour and a quarter’s travel. At this rate we will be in the neighbouring Force area pretty soon.
The calls continue and the volunteers for incarceration oblige because they are too stupid or clouded by intoxication to heed the advice and bugger off before we start making the sorts of enemies we have neither the cell space nor the officer power we need to deal with things effectively.
We have not got enough transport care of Battenburg Cabs and the one spare seat in the dog van is just not suitable. The Health & Safety stormtroopers would have something to say about the high level decibels of barking that might be deemed as a little loud for our customers. They have rights you know.
It is far better to travel in one of the cabs with at least one officer on pin down duty across the back seat of the car as the vans with the secure cage is noisily travelling to the local free B & B about 35 miles away.
How we got through the night I simply don’t know, but we did.
We had our customers lodged all over the Force area, we had no one left to go around to the extent that another division’s officers were covering our ground.
We ran out of officers, vehicles, cells and fortunately, no one was seriously injured. The night was a blur of constant activity and response were glad to see me on more than one occasion. This appears to be becoming a regular occurrence despite what the S.M.T. at the C.T.C.C. keep telling everyone about being fit for purpose and how they are supporting us in what we do…………..despite this I am not as reassured as I perhaps should be.
We did fail in so much as we never got to doing any of our directed patrol at the management selected targets. They will not be best pleased about this and will probably think we have had an easy night because they have no figures to compare with statistical trends. And there I was thinking we were loosening the bureaucratic grip.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall when nights do their handover to see the look on the faces of the early skippers. They will really will be pleased to inherit all this before they have even started, what with no OT’s and that. All officers will be committed with stuff before they start to get the morning rush of calls to deal with.
I just hope I’ve got enough fuel left to get to the pumps and fill up before my chariot stops as I am a long way from home.