In Northamptonshire, resources are stretched to breaking point, and police officers are struggling to meet an increased demand on their services, especially police custody.
Northamptonshire has just 62 custody cells to cater for a population of 700,000 people, with the number of detainees leaping by nearly a third in recent years. In Kettering, custody suite sergeant Dave McEwan has the challenge of dealing with one of Northamptonshire’s unfriendly returnees. ‘We call some of our regulars “frequent flyers”. Sometimes they come back that quick we just say: ”Do you want your usual room?”’ But it’s not only repeat offenders clogging up the cells, as the number of first-time offenders in custody keeps rising.
It’s lunchtime and a woman in her 60s is brought in for drink-driving. It’s her first time in custody. ‘Drug and alcohol services have been cut, mental health services have been cut, youth services have been cut,’ says custody sergeant Charlotte Pateman. ‘The police: we’re the one service that can’t say no.’ Meanwhile, detention officer Perry Chaplin finds himself in an awkward situation when a female detainee decides to strip naked.