Sunday, September 05, 2010

Custody Sergeant's Response

Sergeant Mark Andrews is in the news for the wrong reasons. I don't really need to provide a link judging by some of the newspaper headlines but just in case look here.

Firstly I don't condone what he did. No matter how drunk or annoying someone is we still have those three words which take precedence over everything: duty of care. He'll lose his job, and arguably deservedly so.

However, as a police sergeant who has spent a lot of time as a custody sergeant, I think I'm perhaps a bit more entitled to have something to say about all this.

I work in a relatively small police station. We only have the 10 cells. However, despite that we have generated nearly 4000 custody records this year alone. This is not even the only custody suite in our force area. 4000 custody records is just a drop in the ocean of what must be hundreds of thousands of custody records across the uk, each referring to an individual arrested and booked in at a police station. The vast, overwhelming majority of these cases pass off without incident, even with the really drunk, aggressive and dangerous people that we literally drag off the streets to keep you lot safe. The borderline psychopaths who will literally rip their arms open with their teeth to get attention (yes, I have really seen this happen). The drug addicts who start attacking the doctors when they won't give them the drugs they want. They all get treated properly and fairly. Certainly in my experience they do. Custody suites are dripping with these cameras for precisely this reason and to my knowledge they have fended off far more malicious allegations than they have found genuine ones.

So when you see the blaring headline of "BRUTALITY" and bruised faces splashed over pages in full close up just remember it refers to one, single, individual officer and his misjudgement. Not all of us.