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Drugs

My 21-Hour Prison Hell

Next time you wanna play the big man and carry half a pill around in some old tissue, think of me.

by Joe Bish
08 March 2012, 9:00am

It’s difficult to have a fair and balanced view of the Metropolitan Police when their staff members so frequently seem disinterested in both balance and fairness. In my experience, it is a job that is often dictated not by logic or the stated aim of ‘Working together for a safer London’, but by following pointless rules that no one involved wants to adhere to but must, out of a robotic sense of duty.

I can't be 100 percent sure, but I'm pretty certain those were the exact words scrolling through my head when I was arrested at 0.47AM on Saturday, the 25th of February.

You know what I did? I smoked a joint. I smoked a joint in front of some girls and my friend who likes talking in ebonics, because I wanted to impress them. Almost as soon as the flame hit the Rizla, around seven plain-clothes police officers bounded around the corner, apprehended my friend and told me to "fucking stand over there now" by a wall.

I would learn (much, much) later that these officers are called 'Specials', and are renowned in the force for being total dickheads.

They began to search me, at which point I thought it apt to mention that I had half a pill in my right pocket (yes, half a pill – half a real ecstasy pill). I believed that if I was honest about it, considering the minute quantity, I would be cautioned like my friend and let go.

As you may have already gathered from the title of this article, I was not let go. I was placed under arrest. A senior officer – a tall, fat, bald, patronising, power-drunk arsehole with really nice eyes – asked the men either side of me to put me in cuffs.

“He’s been pretty compliant Sir; calm, no trouble,” they said.

“Nah, handcuff him.”



Hands behind back. Right palm facing up. Left palm facing down. The shiny steel awkwardly grating against my wrists as I tried to jostle into a position that didn’t feel like a shit wrestling move was being done on me by a weird teenager.

It was another 15 minutes before a van arrived to take me to a North London police station. I was ushered into the back, cuffs still on, and started my journey into the heart of true bumbling madness.

When I arrived at the station all of my possessions were confiscated. My coat, which had to be removed because of the potentially-suicidal tassels on it, was placed along with all the other detritus that follows me through life in some evidence containers. I looked down at the evidence bag containing my sad half-pill wrapped in tissue paper. It looked like a snotty rag I’d forgotten to throw away from a cold I'd had a year ago.

I was taken into a camera-less cell where I was strip-searched. I was made to remove all my clothing, to squat and to lift up my ball sack. This was to ensure that I hadn’t hidden any more half pills up my arse or behind my bollocks (though, knowing me, I’d have just fucking told them about it anyway, right?).

After an opiate test and a thorough finger-printing, I was placed in a holding cell. By now it was about 3.15AM. “Try and get some sleep,” I was told, “we should get you processed in the morning.” So I did just that, I went to sleep, kind of safe in the knowledge that, because of how minor my offence was, it wouldn’t be taking much longer.

:(

After being awake in my cell for a few hours observing the graffiti (seriously, how are they doing that? Are they using their nails to carve tags into the window frames? Why?), I was told that, to speed up my processing, I was being transferred to an East London police station, because that’s where I originally got nabbed.

Cuffs back on. Hand around my arm. Back to the van.

The officer accompanying me looked at my Escobarian drug horde wrapped in pure cut Andrex.

“They brought you in for this? Fuck’s sake.”

I was placed in the kind of back seat of the van this time, the cell was being occupied by a burly Turkish gentleman who appeared to have taken a buttload of prescription meds. Driving along, I looked out at all the people staring at me and felt kind of bad ass. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a dangerous motherfucker in the back of a pig-mobile. They don’t know what I’m capable of, that’s why they’ve locked my menacing hands up. I could kill everyone in this van for all you know. Then I thought I actually just want to sit on my bed and cry into my cashmere jumper, and all feelings of hardmannery were quickly extinguished.

After arriving, I was placed in a sort of waiting-cage outside with a few attending officers, the Turkish man – who by this point was swaying and spitting and farting, his eyes lolling back into his melting brain – and a skinny, rat-faced white gentlemen who had blood all over his joggers and a bandage on his right knuckle. We were out there for almost an hour while the officers inside were ‘changing over’. Once inside, I was met by the sight of the sergeants playfully giving each other mini Flakes and arguing about how much work they all had to do. The officer who was looking after me looked on in almost complete disdain. “Thirteen hours pursuing justice,” he said of my now-13-hour-long detention.



I had, by this point, lost all interest in anything. I went up to the counter, again, to answer, again, whether or not I could read or if I'd ever tried to top myself. My glasses and shoelaces were then confiscated and I was placed back into a cell. I started to wonder how long it would actually take for them to interview me and let me go, and began panicking about whether I’d even be let out on the same day.

To reiterate: I'd been caught with half an E in my pocket.

I rang the buzzer. I said: “Excuse me, do you know what’s going on? I don’t know what time it is or anything, I’ve been here for ages.”

“Let me go and find out for you,” the officer said, as the small, rectangular contact point slammed shut, echoing through the high, empty room. I looked at some more etched graffiti, my favourite being ‘BLACK MAN NA WHITE MAN’, as it was both factual and poetic.

Another hour passed. I pressed the buzzer again.

“What’s going on?”

“Look, I’m busy doing something alright? If anything comes up I’ll let you know. The officer who’ll be doing your interview is charging someone else at the moment, and hopefully he’ll be with you before 10PM.”

10PM? Are they fucking joking me? I had half an E in my pocket, wrapped in some tissue, and I might be interviewed, not released, by 10PM?

I sat down and pulled my shirt over my head, letting a single, frustrated tear roll down my face. I waited longer. I heard nothing. I was offered lasagne. I refused it. I defiantly kept thinking that I would have something when I got out, a fucking big burger with all sorts of fried goods and sauces thrown all over it.

More hours passed and I began to think about what I’d done, and do you know what? The whole situation made me want to take more drugs than ever. It made me want to get so garotted with pills and charlie and anything else anyone would give me that I would barely be able to keep my saliva out of my stupid, pulsating eyeballs.

I slept again.



The door opened, and the officer who was conducting my interview collected me. The interview lasted about five minutes in all, and was totally worth the 20-hour wait. He told me it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to get me out of the station.

Two hours later, he returned and apologised. I couldn't even speak at this point, and communicated in hand gestures, which translated to, "don’t worry about it, just give me my shit and get me the fuck out of this hell hole".

I got my things and listened as a couple of other policemen brought in another soul who was ‘loitering with intent’. Intent to do what, stand more still? Shimmy slightly to the left?

I put my laces back in. It was now 9.45PM.

I erupted through the door and, like Andy Dufresne, emerged from the shit-stained grot pipe that is the Met’s processing system. Almost every officer I'd met seemed disappointed to have been handcuffing, detaining, stripping, solitarily confining and generally fucking with a teenager who had been caught with half a pill in his pocket.

Follow Joe on Twitter: @joe_bish

Illustrations by Cei Willis

Tagged:
Drugs
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ecstasy
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The Met
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prison sucks
being a bad motherfucker
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