I got arrested recently. I spent a night in a cell when I was supposed to be out sipping cocktails with my friends. It was a huge misunderstanding and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but during the 19 hours that I was detained in a cell, I learnt a lot about our justice system.
1. Being arrested is not the same as it is on TV
The only thing that was the same was the speech that they do when they arrest you. “I am arresting you for bla bla bla. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you say may be given in evidence.”
Other than that, there were no handcuffs involved, I was just sat in the back of a police car having a chat with the officer when they decided that they should arrest me and my sister.
2. I am not Piper Kerman
During the whole process of getting stopped by police, being arrested, being taken to the station, getting locked up in a cell and being questioned, I genuinely felt like Piper from Orange is the New Black and asked some ridiculous middle class white girl questions such as, “Can I get a fan in here?”, “When can I have my phone?”, “What’s on the menu?”, “Can I go for a walk quickly? I promise I’ll come back” and “When did I last drink? Why I had a mango mojito yesterday, it was lovely!”
I soon realised that I was not being taken seriously and this was real life.
3. The whole process is extremely long
It took them about an hour to actually arrest me and then I was detained for 18 hours before I was questioned. It then took another hour until I was allowed out with no further action required.
4. Drugs should be legalised
The whole reason that I got arrested was because I was suspected of possessing a Class B drug that was found in the car I was in. I was merely getting a lift to go and meet my friends, I had no idea that there was cannabis in the car. I’ve always thought that weed should be legalised but it was whilst I was sat in my little cell, that I realised it really, really needs to be legalised. If the government did, they could control how much people bought and would have a record of who bought what and when, instead of innocent people like myself being wrongly accused of possessing something that they did not.
5. The tea is not that great
The tea is very watery and too sweet. I’m a seven sugars kinda gal but it was just rank. I’d advise people not to get arrested as you may have to drink the horrible concoctions on offer.
6. Being pally with the police doesn’t get you out quicker
To begin with, I was quite friendly with the police, talking about my life, what I studied at university, what my plans for the evening were. I thought I’d be out in a flash as I knew I hadn’t done anything, but as I mentioned in point three, the whole process of proving your innocence is very long and police officers are not your friends when you’ve just been arrested for possession.
7. There are other people in cells too
I felt like I was the only person there, but soon realised when I heard a drunken man crying and shouting and a woman who didn’t sound particularly mentally stable that there are loads of other people in cells.
8. Being in a cell overnight is really dull
There is nothing to look at or even think about. The lights are kept on and sleep seems to be a luxury.
9. You are watched constantly
There are cameras in the cells and it is the weirdest thing that I have ever encountered. To think that someone was watching me potter around, day dream and attempt to sleep is very unnerving.
10. You are even watched in the toilet
When I arrived at the station, I needed the toilet and a female officer had to accompany me. It was a very odd experience. I’m used to going in toilets with girls on nights out, for some reason it’s completely normal when you’re drunk, but when you’ve been arrested and the officer wants to look at your wee and check your pants it is the most bizarre thing.
Whilst the whole experience was pretty horrifying, especially as I had done nothing wrong, I can now reflect on my experience of being arrested and acknowledge it as just that, an experience.