Saturday, 4 July 2009
There's no justice like slow justice
9.45pm, paraded for night duty. 10pm booked out radio, Walther PP self loading pistol and 14 rounds of ammunition in two magazines. Loaded and made ready (one up the spout, safety catch off) holstered pistol. Went out on patrol. No body armour, because there wasn't any, by that I mean no one had any. It just wasn't issued, whether you needed it or not. 10.30pm, stopped a car, breath tested the driver, arrested the driver and conveyed him to police station. Went through the station procedures. He elected to give blood. Doctor was 15 minutes away. Samples taken, man released pending sample analysis. 11.35pm, back on patrol. 00.10am, called to fight in nightclub. Complainant seen. Suspect identified. Complainant states he's prepared to attend station and sign charge sheet if necessary. Suspect arrested for assault and conveyed to station. Statement taken from complainant. Suspect interviewed and voluntary statement taken. Suspect charged and held in custody pending court. 01.30am, relieve a colleague on an armed protection post for their meal (thats why I had the Walther PP). 02.30am had meal. 03.15am back out on patrol in park because of spate of robberies on backpacking tourists sleeping out. 03.30am, report of noise from vicinity of park cafe. 03.35am arrest male for criminal damage to cafe windows. Van collects us and conveys us to station. 04.30am, the man, having admitted offences (Iwitnessed him break the last one) charged with criminal damage and held in custody. My paperwork consists of my pocket note book entries, descriptive forms and a copy of the charge sheets which I will take to court. 5am, allowed to book off duty as I will be in court later than morning with my 2 prisoners. There is no such thing as the CPS, I am the prosecutor. 10am I am in Bow Street Magistrates Court. I find my prisoners from the night shift in the holding cells and bid them good morning. I go to a telephone and do criminal record bureau checks on them and get their previous convictions. They have over 20 between them and this will be conveyed to the magistrate if they are convicted or plead guilty, but I will only give the court details of the last 3 convictions. I scribble the details down. No one in court will get any copies of anything off me. My first case is called. I stand in front of the clerk, announce myself, request a summary trial and ask that the charge be put to the defendant. The Clerk of the court does so and asks how he pleads. "Guilty". I step into the witness box and read out the brief facts and then his previous convictions. He is asked if he wants to speak and mumbles an apology and starts to go on about too much to drink, but the magistrate, a professional or Stipendiary, cuts him off and fines him £25. He can pay there and then. Case closed. I await my next case. In he comes and I go through the same procedure. He too pleads "Guilty". I give the facts and his previous convictions. He is fined £20 and after a brief discussion is allowed seven days to pay. Had they pleaded `not guilty` I would simply have taken the oath, delivered my evidence and cross examined them if they chose to give evidence under oath. This would have taken a little longer. I leave the court, return to my station, type out two forms about both cases and send them off to central records. I am back in bed by 12.30pm to catch up on my sleep before going back on duty at 9.45pm that night to do it all over again. I incur a couple of hours overtime. There were lots of us on my shift that night and we weren't all getting arrests but I wasn't the only one by any means. No 21st Century police officer could do this. It is just not possible. It's how it was when I first joined. Just thought I'd share.