At 5 Pm, 29 year old Will and his 23 year old co-defendant Peter, were sitting in one of the cells with about 30 other prisoners at Lambeth holding cells.
Several times a prison officer opened the door and called the names of small groups of prisoners, who were then taken to remand centres or police stations.
After a while just Will and Peter were left in the cells with three other inmates.
A Jamaican inmate called Winston looked at them all and said, “I gotta feelin’ we all gonna end up in police custody.”
“Whad’ya mean?” Will asked.
“Most of da remand centres are full,” Winston continued, “Prison overcrowding, so a lot of remand prisoners are being held in police stations. Jails are more overcrowded since they shut down two of the wings in The Scrubbs. They doin’ repairs as the wings were smashed up in da recent riot there.”
Joe, a skinny junkie from Liverpool joined in the conversation and said, “Well listen guys…On a positive note, it looks like we’re gonna end up in police custody. Which is good man. Police stations are much more cushy than remand centres. The last police station I was in we could have unlimited visits each day…They let us make untold phone calls…An’ we could have food brought in and money, so we were sending the gavvers out to get us pizzas, KFC, Kebabs an’ chocolate…It was a doddle in there.”
“What about gear?” Asked Will.
“No problem,” Replied Joe, “Sometimes after a visit the police would just do a rub down, an’ sometimes they didn’t even bother doing that…An’ there were no strip searches. My bird was bringing me wraps of heroin an’ I was chasin’ it in the cells.”
“Didn’t they smell it?” Asked Will.
“I dunno man,” Joe continued grinning, “I just kept spraying deodorant around the cell sometimes to mask it.”
“What about puff?” Asked Peter, joining the conversation.
“We were getting puff as well,” Said Joe, “But we didn’t smoke it. We just got stoned by eating little bits of it now an’ then.”
They all laughed and Peter said, “Sensible.”
After a pause Winston looked at Will and Peter and asked, “What you guys in for?”
“Aggravated burglary,” Answered Will, “We broke into a mansion in Richmond in the early hours of the mornin’ an’ made the owners open their safe.”
Winston grinned and said, “Wicked.”
Then Will asked Winston, “What you in for?”
Winston grinned again, “Sellin’ crack, plus possession of firearms. Bullman raided my yard an’ I get ketch with half ounce of white, an’ they found me handgun under da floorboards.”
Winston then looked at Joe, the skinny junkie from Liverpool and asked, “What you in for?”
Joe grinned and said, “Pick pocketing. Undercover police were following me an’ nabbed me when I dipped a woman’s handbag on the tube.”
“Wicked,” Grinned Winston again. He then looked at Jamie, who was wearing jeans with rips in them, odd socks and boots with no laces, and Winston asked him, “What you in for?”
Jamie, who was only 21, looked nervous and replied, “Shop lifting.”
“Whad’ya teeth?” Winston asked.
“A sandwich from a supermarket,” Jamie replied suddenly blushing.
Will frowned, “What…They remanded you in custody just for that?”
“They said they had to remand me in custody because I ain’t got an address to be bailed to.”
Wills frown deepened, “Why ain’t ya got an address?
“I’m homeless,” Jamie replied looking more embarrassed.
Will shook his head and said, “That’s rough man. Puttin’ you in jail, just for nickin’ a sandwich.”
The five of them pause a moment in silence and the cell door was suddenly opened and a prison officer said, “Right lads we’re taking you to a police station in South London.”
“Whereabouts in South London guv?” Asked Will.
“Tooting,” Answered the prison officer.
“Yes,” Will said euphorically.
Peter also smiled and said, “Just up the road from where we live. Do ya think they’ll let us have a visit there tonight guv?”
I don’t see why not,” Said the officer, “They’ll let you make a phone call when you get there, so you can contact a friend or relative and let them know where you are.”
When they arrived at the police station there were half a dozen police officers in the custody area to great them. The sergeant, a middle aged, overweight, bearded man called Brian said, “Right lads, you know you’re remanded in police custody because the London remand centres are full. We’ll try to look after you as best as we can here. We’ll let you make phone calls, have visits, and let you have a bit of exercise on the yard every day to get a bit of fresh air.
“If you don’t give us any trouble,” Continued Brian, “We won’t give you any trouble. Treat us with respect, and we’ll treat you with respect…Any questions?”
Will asked, “Would we be able to have a visit tonight guv?”
“Yes,” Answered Brian.
Peter then asked, “Can we have a phone call to let people know we’re here?”
“Yes,” Brian replied and again added, “We’ll let you have visits in some of the interview rooms and we’ll be housing you in part of the station that’s been shut down for a while as they’re doing some building work and electrical rewiring soon.
“There’s a row of three cells on a corridor. Four of you will have to share two to a cell, and one of you will be in a cell on your own. But we’ll keep the cells open all day so you can mix together and get a little bit of space. But we’ll keep the gate locked at the end of the corridor that the cells are on. There’s also a toilet and shower room on the corridor. Basically guys we’ll just leave you alone, and just check up on you guys every half an hour to check you ain’t escaped or killed each other.”
Everyone laughed or smiled.
The prisoners were each given a phone call and after Will and Peter had notified their girlfriends, Jenny and Kerry arrived together. The police officers let them into different rooms, Jenny and Will in one and Kerry and Peter in the other.
As soon as Kerry sat down she burst into tears and said to Peter, “Why did you commit this crime? I thought you weren’t doing crime anymore. You were doing so well. You were at college and we were getting ready to have a baby.”
“I’m sorry babe,” Peter said with tears in his eyes.
“Its no good saying sorry,” Kerry said still crying, “Its too late for that. You could end up getting seven years…Our child’s gonna grow up just seeing you on prison visits every two weeks.”
“You’re gonna stick by me then?” Peter asked still fighting back tears.
“Of course I’m gonna stick by you,” Kerry replied sobbing, “I’m having your baby.”
Peter suddenly broke down in tears and they stood up and hugged each other. “I’m so sorry darling,’” Peter sobbed, “I swear to God that I’ll never ever commit another crime again.”
In the next room Will and Jenny sat opposite each other. Will looked around the room suspiciously and said quietly, “Do ya think they’re taping us?”
Jenny looked around and said, “I don’t think so.”
Will continued speaking quietly, “You don’t think the copper sitting outside the door can hear us do ya?
“Nah,” Said Jenny, “Not if we speak quietly.”
They stared at each other a moment in silence then Jenny said, “Kerry’s in bits. She cried all the way up ‘ere in the cab.”
Will didn’t answer and Jenny continued, “Peter’s not gonna be there when she gives birth in three months.”
Will sighed and ran his hand through his dark cropped hair, “I know man, I feel terrible.”
They both pause in thought, then Jenny asked, “What about us? What am I gonna do for money while you’re away?”
“You can sell my car,” Said Will.
“How much will I get for that?”
“About three or four grand.”
“Well that won’t last long. I’m gonna be visiting you an’ I guess you’re gonna want me to bring you gear each time.”
“Did ya bring anything this time?” Will asked desperately.
“Just puff,” Said Jenny.
Will grinned, “How much?”
“Just a quarter.”
Will then looked at the door and said even quieter, “Give it to me now.”
Jenny also looked nervously towards the door then pulled out the quarter ounce of cannabis resin from her bra, gave it to Will who immediately put his hand down the back of his trousers and pushed the cling film wrapped narcotic up his anus.
Will then grinned again and said, “Maybe you can bring us up some E’s one day.”
Jenny looked at him wearily and said, “Ok.”
A pained expression suddenly appeared on Wills face and he asked, “How are the kids?”
“Gutted,” Jenny replied equally as pained, “They can’t believe you’re back in jail again.”
During the next four days the five prisoners got into the routine. They went on the yard twice a day for half an hour each time. Three of them would be handcuffed together and two of them together. It wasn’t a secure yard like a prison, so the police would have to take precautions and three of them sat out on the yard whilst the prisoners walked, and there was also a police dog present.
The prisoners had visits each day, except Jamie the homeless guy, as he didn’t have any family or friends.
Will and Peter were visited by their girlfriends Jenny and Kerry each afternoon and evening, and the police let them have a half hour visit each time.
Will, Winston and scouse Joe smuggled drugs from their visits, and all the prisoners ate little bits of the cannabis resin now and then. It made them all feel relaxed. And Joe was also smuggling wraps of heroin his girlfriend brought up and he was chasing it on silver foil Kit Kat wrappers and he was so glad that none of the other prisoners took heroin, so he didn’t have to share it.
One Saturday night, four of the prisoners had put some money together and decided to order a bargain bucket of KFC. 21 year old Jamie seemed a bit embarrassed as he couldn’t contribute anything, but Winston smiled at him and said, “Don’t worry yute…We love ya.”
Jamie smiled sheepishly and Will ruffled Jamie’s hair affectionately and said, “You’re one of us mate. We’ll look after ya.”
Jamie smiled again.
When the police officer Gordon came to collect the money for the KFC Will suddenly asked grinning, “Eh guv, if I give you the money I don’t suppose you could get us all a can of beer each could ya?
Gordon raised his eyebrows surprised then frowned and said, “This is a police station lad, not The Ritz hotel.”
“Ah come on guv,” Pleaded Will, “Just a can of beer each…It’s Saturday night.”
Gordon looked unsure, then said, “Let me ask Brian the sergeant.”
A couple of minutes later Gordon came back with a smile on his face and said to Will through the barred gate at the start of the cells corridor, “Serge said yes lads. We’ll get you a can of beer each to go with your KFC…But this is a one off only. And don’t tell a soul that we let you drink beer in this police station.”
The guys all smiled and Winston the crack dealer put his fist through the barred gate and Gordon touched fists with him and Winston said, “Respect guvnor.”
Gordon came back to the police station with the KFC and five cans of Fosters for the prisoners.
The five of them sat in Will and Peter’s cell and they all tucked into the chicken and fries, which they washed down with the lager.
Winston said, “I never thought I’d be eating fried chicken an’ drinkin’ lager in a police cell.”
They all smiled and Will then said, “I’ve gotta surprise for you all.”
“What?” Asked Peter.
“We’re all gonna be raving in a police station,” Said Will.
“Whad’ya mean? Asked Winston.
Will suddenly put his hand down the front of his boxer shorts and produced five pills in cling film.
“Know what these are?” Will asked them all grinning.
Peter looked stunned with surprise and asked, “Is it ecstasy?”
“Yeah,” Grinned Will, “I wanted to surprise you all. Jenny brought them up today.”
“Wicked,” Grinned Winston, “Lets tune our radios to Kiss FM an’ let da ravin’ begin.”
Like clockwork Gordon the police officer came to the gate at the start of the cell corridor half an hour after giving the prisoners KFC and lager. The inmates were blasting out dance tunes on Kiss and were milling around in the corridor.
“How was the beer guys?” Asked Gordon.
“Pucker,” Said Will.
When Gordon appeared at the gate half hour later again he was stunned to see the five inmates dancing around like nutters. The ecstasy pills had now taken full effect.
“You alright lads?” Gordon asked raising his voice to be heard above the music.
“We cool guv,” Grinned the Jamaican Winston.
Will then came closer to the barred gate and said, “Eh guv, I wanna tell ya something.”
Gordon smiled and said, “What, you’re not going to confess to any crimes are you?”
“No guv,” Will replied.
“Then what do you want to tell me?”
Will grinned with his eyes shining sensuously and said, “I wanna tell you that I love ya.”
Gordon looked stunned again and Winston also grinned and said, “I love you as well guv.”
Gordon suddenly laughed and said, “You light weights. You’ve only had one can of lager and you’re drunk.”
When Gordon went back to the reception area he said to the sergeant Brian, “You won’t believe this. Two of the prisoners just told me they love me.”
Brian raised his eyebrows and Gordon continued, “They’re dancing round the corridor like nutters. Listening to house music on their radios. They’ve only had one can each.”
Brian paused in thought a moment then said, “Do you think they’re on something else?”
“Don’t know serge. They might be. They’re dancing like lunatics.”
“Do you think we should search them?
Gordon thought a moment then said, “Nah, Just leave them alone. They’re not harming anyone.”
When Gordon came back again about half hour later to check on the prisoners they were still dancing round the corridor.
Gordon looked through the barred gate and Will smiled at him again and asked, “Guv, why do ya need to keep checking up on us? Can’t you just see us on the camera?”
Will then pointed to the CCTV camera above the gate in the corner of the wall pointing down the corridor.
“It don’t work,” Gordon said smiling.
“What?” Will asked wondering if he’d heard right.
“The camera don’t work,” Gordon said again, “ This part of the building needs refurbishment and a lot of the electrics need rewiring. That’s why the CCTV in the corridor ain’t working.”
Will was so happy to hear this information that if he could of squeezed his head through the barred gate he would have kissed Gordon. And when Gordon left, Will quickly addressed the four other prisoners and asked, “Who wants to escape with me?”
“Escape?” Asked Winston, “How we gonna do that?”
Will walked over the to the old sash cord window in the middle of the corridor. There was a row of thick metal bars in front of it. And Will said, “We’re gonna saw through these bars, then climb out the window.”
Scouse Joe looked confused and said, “I thought of that, but they’re watching us through the camera in the corner. If we started sawing through the bars they’d see us.”
Will grinned and said, “The camera don’t work. This part of the station needs rewiring.”
“How do ya know that? Joe asked.
“Didn’t ya just hear me talkin’ to the copper?”
“Nah,” Joe answered, “I was just listening to the radio tunes.”
Winston suddenly felt excited, which was even more euphoric because he was buzzing on the ecstasy pill, and he said, “We’re gonna need a hacksaw to saw tru the bars. How we gonna get one?
“Don’t worry,” Grinned Will, “I’ll think of something.”
The next night Jenny came up to visit Will. It was her second visit that day as she’d visited him in the afternoon and Will had told her the plan. When Gordon, who was on duty again, opened the old interview room for Jenny and Will to have their visit in, Jenny said to Gordon, “I’ve bought up a couple of kebabs for Will and Peter. Can you give this to Peter now so It don’t get cold?”
“Sure,” Said Gordon as Jenny handed him one of the polystyrene boxes.
After Gordon had shut Will and Jenny in the room, he took the Kebab to the corridor and called Peter through the barred gate.
Peter came out of his cell and came to the gate and Gordon said, “Your mates girlfriend bought you a kebab.”
“Thanks,” Said Peter looking tense.
Gordon suddenly opened the lid of the box and said, “Mmm. Looks nice.”
Peter froze with fear and Gordon asked, “Can I have a bit of your meat?”
“Ok,” Peter said tensely.
Gordon picked out a slice of Donner meat and ate it and said, “The chilli sauce is lovely.”
Gordon then closed the box and handed it through the barred gate and Gordon said smiling, “Enjoy your meal.”
Peter then took the box now feeling terrified and Gordon suddenly looked concerned and asked, “Are you alright lad?”
“Yeah,” Peter replied tensely, “I’ve just got a bit of a headache.”
“Oh, ok,” Gordon said, “Just eat your meal and I’ll see if I can get you a couple of Anadin.”
“Thanks,” Peter said still tense.
Peter walked back into his open cell and Winston, Joe and Jamie looked at him with wide eyed expectation. Peter immediately opened the Kebab box, lifted out the Kebab and beneath the pitta bread was a junior hacksaw which Peter held up for the others to see.
Winston grinned and said, “Wicked. We’re out of here.”
TO BE CONTINUED