Monday, August 07, 2006

Tales of Woe

Here are a few tales or woe about the contractors that move defendants from either Police Stations or Prisons to Court and back. The government decided in their wisdom to get contractors to move defendants instead of the Police or the Prison Service. There have been many problems with this system, such as when Group 4 took over the contract in London previously held by Securicor they did not have as many vans to transport defendants so defendants would routinely arrive late!

Here are a few of the best examples I have heard of recently:

1. A defendant is moved from HMP Nottingham to Harwich Magistrates Court. For some reason the custody staff contracted to work at Harwich Magistrates Court were not there. The van from Nottingham was operated by a different contractor. The staff on the van from Nottingham refused to take the defendant off of the van and in to the cells at Harwich because they were only contracted to bring the defendant to the door of the local Court and not to man the custody suite at Harwich. The result of this run in was the van was driven some distance to another Court to drop off the prisoner and prevent the two day trial from taking place.

2. At one of my local Police Stations they have decided to knock down the old custody suite and build a brand new one for the Police Station. The Police Station is physically less than 10 meters away from the local Magistrates Court. Having built the new Police Station custody suite people are now scratching their heads as to why a tunnel was not built between the Police Station custody suite and the Magistrates Court. In the future a firm will have to be contracted to move the defendants 10m from the Police Station to the Court and it will no doubt involve the use of a van!

3. When a particular contract was agreed for one Magistrates Court the people responsible for the decisions decided that in order to save money they would get a contractor to man one Court dock of the Court building instead of all three. As a consequence if the Magistrates make a decision to send someone to prison their case must be either already in Court One or moved to Court One of the building before a custodial sentence can be passed.

I did call these tales of woe, but they are in fact very real accounts. They might sound funny but they really are the truth.


Tim said...

I've heard the third one about more than one magistrates court... Sentencing being transferred to Court 1 was a handy shorthand to all involved (sometimes the defendants as well) that custody was on the horizon!

Bystander said...

In general we don't do too badly with our contractors. I did feel sorry for them during the heatwave - the vans are air conditioned in the back for the cons, but the drivers have to sweat it out in the cab.

Anonymous said...

i herd a story once bout remanders being moved from st albans and luton crown court to hmp bronzefield and they didnt get to the prison till after 8 due to a hold up on motorway so the prison reception was closed and all the local police stations that being staines and erm staines were full so these remanders spent the night in the van now thats disgusting