Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Waiting Can Be So Frustrating

I find that waiting at the Police Station or Court is really frustrating. There are ways to combat waiting, such as doing more work on the case you are attending on, take more work to do in case you have to wait, read a book, or even just chat. What really does frustrate me is when I have to wait for no apparent reason and it is just not possible to do something else at the time I am waiting.

When I recently went to a Police Station I dealt with a number of Co-defendants. My Clients were interviewed in the very early hours of the morning but it was deemed too late for the Co-defendants to be interviewed so everyone went in to their sleep period. That same morning after the sleep period had expired I phoned the Police Station at regular intervals until I was told to attend for 4pm.

I went back to the Police Station at 4pm as requested but had to wait until 4.50pm before the Police were actually ready to deal with my Clients. I was informed that the delay was due to CPS advice arriving late. Whilst I was waiting outside of the Police Station I spoke with representatives of the other Co-defendants. There were a total of three solicitors, two professional appropriate adults from 'social services', and two parents all waiting from 4pm to deal with their particular youth.

From 4.50pm I stood in the custody suite with my Client advising them on the charging procedure, drug testing following charge, what happens at the first Court appearance, the likely length of time it could take to conclude their case, and how bail conditions would be imposed. Apart from the 10 minutes that we were in front of the Custody Sergeant for charging, and the 10 minutes we were in being drug tested, we stood around for the best part of an hour. By this time I was struggling to find something to advise my Client on. I could not leave the Client as a decision regarding bail had not been made and she was in danger of being kept in Police custody and produced at Court the following day.

At 5.50pm I had noticed that the three Custody Sergeants were in discussion with three new Custody Sergeants. When I asked why nothing appeared to be going on in the custody suite I was told that it was 'change over time'. For 20 minutes these discussions continued, and whilst 'change over' took place I counted that there were 28 people (including Police Officers, Defendants, Solicitors, and Appropriate Adults etc.) milling around in the Custody Suite waiting to be seen to.

This mighty backlog of people took quite some time to deal with. I was glad to have left the Police Station just after 7pm when my two Clients had both been charged and bailed to Court. It was unusual for the charge procedure to take so long, even where the Police Station was busy. I found the whole experience mind numbingly boring due to the frustration I experienced with waiting. As the Custody Suite was so busy I was unable to sit down and read some papers that I had with me, I did not have a book, I had taken all of the instructions that I possibly could have done, and there was nothing else I could do whilst waiting but stand there and vegetate! I felt sorry for the Co-defendant's representatives as they were waiting from 4pm to be seen and by 7pm they had not been dealt with.

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