Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Irrelevant time

It is often with a sense of concealed ironic amusement I book someone in, and the officer tells me his 'Socpa' reason for arrest is for a prompt and effective investigation.

If only. The only thing prompt about anyone in custody is the hurry of all the various squads to think of reasons why it wouldn't be in their remit. The battles I have had with the burglary squad who will stop at nothing to argue that someone who has been arrested for burglary and booked in for burglary has not actually committed burglary before they've even read the officers notes or interviewed the bloke.

I have had it argued that someone who gained access to a roof to steal lead, via someone letting him in through a communal entrance, is not burglary. He entered the building by consent you see, and therefore could not be a trespasser.

Or, how I once caught someone, still inside a flat, having smashed the door in. I was literally on top of this call when it came out and was inside and grabbed him (I'm not sure who was more surprised to see each other) before he had moved anything outside. That wasn't burglary, according to the burglary squad, because he had only committed criminal damage and we couldn't prove the intention to steal!

That last one was the only time I've ever lost my temper at work- with the DC who was trying to tell me I should deal with this prisoner as criminal damage.

The bunfights that go on about who should deal with a prisoner can go on for hours. Meanwhile of course Chummy is sat twiddling his thumbs in the cell whilst clock ticks slowly down. My job as the custody sergeant is to make sure he is dealt with promptly and the entries on some custody logs are simply a procession of calls by me to the various gatekeepers (i.e. those who decide whose unit should deal with what prisoner) haranguing them for someone to come down and actually get on with it.

Of course, prior to any of the specialist squads actually taking a prisoner on the Response jockeys have to do an ever increasing list of minimum requirements before they'll accept the handover- i.e. statements from witnesses, victims, photos, seizure and evidencing. Basically, they're only happy if the only thing they have to do is interview.

It's odd. Every so often we get a really juicy prisoner which one of the super central based squads come out and deal with- the murderers, shootings type prisoners. The contrast is stark compared to our local suit department- they offer to help the response team boys with exhibiting stuff, even volunteer to take statements from witnesses. Meanwhile, just getting our local CID out of their office I normally consider to be an achievement....