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A night in the nick

PUBLISHED: 17:55 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 July 2010

The custody suite at Great Yarmouth police station

The custody suite at Great Yarmouth police station

Laura Bagshaw

Great Yarmouth Mercury reporter Laura Bagshaw spends an eye-opening Saturday night in the custody suite at Yarmouth police station during the busy summer holiday where drunken detainees kick against arrest by throwing coffee, gloves and even their own hair.

Great Yarmouth Mercury reporter Laura Bagshaw spends an eye-opening Saturday night in the custody suite at Yarmouth police station during the busy summer holiday where drunken detainees kick against arrest by throwing coffee, gloves and even their own hair.

A BOX of plastic gloves is thrown across the room as a woman vents her anger over being arrested. As the young woman raises her voice and swears at officers it is clear the level of co-operation has reached a point of no return and she is ushered off to a cell where she will spend the rest of her evening.

However, the alcohol-fuelled rowdy behaviour barely raises an eyebrow at the custody suite at Yarmouth police station, where detention officers are unfazed by all the commotion.

As the late shift begins at 7pm on Saturday the station is buzzing with activity as police in riot gear prepare to move on a group of travellers from the Beach Coach Station.

Custody Sgt Jason Cushing and detention officers Maja Woodhouse and Tony Leggett unusually start the night off with all 11 empty cells but brace themselves for a busy night ahead.

Before the evening gets into full swing there's time for a quick guided tour of the custody suite which has 11 cells some for juveniles, males and females and two cells covered by CCTV. The suite is covered by CCTV which also records sound.

The majority of cells are kitted out with en-suite facilities although custody staff said it's not unusual for male prisoners to urinate against the cell door.

The suite also has two interview rooms, showers, a secure outside yard, as well as rooms where prisoners pose for mug shots, have their finger prints taken and are breathalysed.

Once a person is arrested, depending on the crime and circumstances, some can expect a spell in custody and on arrival they are checked in with details of name, address, date and place of birth, arresting officer, time of arrest and on what grounds they are being detained. Their belongings are also taken.

A prisoner's DNA, fingerprints and photograph are then taken and detention officers also note personal details such as noticeable scars, tattoos, piercings and unusual marks and all this information is uploaded to the police national computer (PNC).

Throughout the evening custody staff can monitor what police are dealing with on the streets and prepare cells if necessary.

Everyone agrees it is an oddly slow start to the evening on Saturday with the first prisoner arriving at 8.40pm. A 23-year-old woman is arrested over an assault. She is very drunk and has been involved in a fight but refuses to give police any information about the incident.

The woman is not co-operative and her emotions are running high. She begins to cry and pulls big clumps of hair from her head as a result of the fight. Unsteady on her feet the woman continues to swear as she places clumps of hair on the desk. She is too drunk and hysterical for detention officers to get further details and is carted off to a cell with CCTV where staff can keep an eye on her. She curls up on the plastic mattress and covers herself with a blanket and starts to sleep off the alcohol. Police notice the woman has a bump on her head and graze on her arm but she will not tell officers how they came about. Consequently, police call for a doctor so the woman can be checked over to make sure she does not have any serious injuries.

About 45 minutes later custody staff receive their next guest - a traveller from the group which had been staying on Beach Coach Station who refused to provide a specimen of breath when asked by police. Officers know they must breathalyse the man as soon as possible to get the best result because as time moves on the alcohol level in his blood will reduce. The man, who told police he was a door-to-door salesman, fails again to give a breath specimen and sample of urine is taken instead. On arrival prisoners have the opportunity to ask to speak with a solicitor and the man chooses to do so. He speaks to a solicitor but become a nuisance when he demands constantly to speak with them again. The man is eventually released at about 10.45pm on police bail until September 30.

Just after midnight an 18-year-old lad is brought into custody after being arrested at a premises on King Street, in Yarmouth, for disorderly behaviour. The teenager staggers backwards and forwards - he's not showing his dance moves to officers, he's just so drunk he cannot stand up straight and almost falls over on several occasions. Amazingly he is able to give officers a few details, in between constant swearing, and is finally escorted to a cell where he will spend the rest of the night and eventually sober up.

At 2.15am a woman is brought into custody screaming and shouting and refuses to give her name until she is allowed to go to the toilet. As she is escorted off she picks up a box of plastic gloves and throws them across the room. She was arrested on Marine Parade, Yarmouth, for threatening behaviour after hitting a doorman and police officer. The doorman didn't wish to make a complaint against the woman who stressed to police the situation had started because she was not wearing shoes on the dance floor.

As with the majority of prisoners her emotions, fuelled by alcohol, run high and the woman goes from being tearful to aggressive.

She is put in a cell and given a cup of coffee to help her sober up which she throws all over the walls.

At 2.45am a man is brought into custody after being arrested on the seafront - he is wanted by police in connection with an assault that happened last weekend and is immediately put into a cell - his details will be taken down in the morning when police have a better chance of getting co-operation.

A man who tried to jump off Haven Bridge and into the River Yare at Yarmouth is detained at about 3am. The man is stripped and put in a rip proof gown because he has threatened to kill himself. He is put in a cell with CCTV and closely monitored by officers throughout the early hours until morning. And so it goes on….

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