Custody Insight – 10th Febuary

Our custody insight was based at Charles Cross. On arrival we were greeted by a male officer who escorted us through to the custody suite. We were introduced to one of the men in charge for that day and he kindly showed us round. He showed us how custody worked, the cells, the holding cells, the interview rooms and integration rooms. He spoke about precautions put in place to stop people from hurting themselves or others. He explained how the beds were low to the ground to stop people from jumping off to injure themselves or drunk people from falling off. He showed us how everything was sealed tightly shut around every part of every cell. No toilet had a seat as that could be used as a weapon or a way to self-harm. He basically said every precaution has been taken into account to make this as comfortable and safe for anyone who enters a cell. He also explained they are still finding new ways of how people try to dig out a weapon in the cells or how they inflict pain on themselves. They also have sky lights and a dim light on at all times so the cameras can see what you’re doing. He also showed us a new techniqual piece of equipment that they were trialing out. They were one of 5 stations in the country to be the first to trial this out. The equipment monitors your heart rate and respiratory rate. This is useful equipment for the people monitoring the cells as they have a quick indication whether someone isn’t feeling well or causing harm on themselves. Throughout this tour I felt very confident in asking questions and getting to know the ins and outs of how custody works.

After we had the tour of the cells, the officer handed us over to one of his colleagues. This man showed us how they monitor on the camera and explained how they do ‘walk rounds’ every 30 minutes. And every 15 minutes for serious offenders. This was to check the person is okay, breathing and sane for the best part. He also shared with us that if they have a suspect in custody who is suspected of smuggling drugs, within themselves, normally up the ‘lower regions’ as he explained while laughing. That they keep them in custody until they have ‘deposited’ the drugs. He said they had a guy in a few weeks ago who kept the drugs up his anus for 18 days. He then went on to show us how they scan in suspects. Such as, taking photos and fingerprints. He explained fingerprints only ever needed to be taken once and they are then always in the system. But photos are taken of suspects every time they come in. He loaded up the most recent photo taken. This guy had been on the system since 1998 and had 17 headshots alone. The man explained that not every time they come in their photo is taken either as sometimes the suspect isn’t compliant.

We then were escorted upstairs to have an informal chat with the man in charge of sexual offences at Charles cross. If I’m honest I found the man very rude and quite explicit when he was explaining some of the jobs he had worked on. For a group of young girls who had never met him before I felt he was slightly obnoxious and a little creepy. I politely interrupted after he had spoken for about 15 minutes to let him know our time was up. Normally we would sit there and let the time carry on but I felt it was best to end there.

Overall today was a great insight into how custody works, I loved asking questions and meeting new people. I was shocked to see how people in the cells think of ways to make weapons or to try and harm themselves. Also at how many people smuggle drugs into custody and believe they can get away with it. Looking into the statistics of drug smuggling into custody in the Uk, it has increased over the last year by 14%. (Police Statistics, 2017) Showing people are becoming more confident that they will be less likely found out. 


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