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December 25, 2011

A Review of Battersea Police Station – short

Read this first! Done? Sweet, you rock, thank you.


I wrote this sometime between 1988-1991 and rediscovered it recently.

As police cells go, Battersea Police Station’s on suite selection has a lot to offer. Admittedly you are not normally given a choice of cells, but, since to a large extent they are generally the same, this isn’t something to be too concerned about.

On the day I was to unexpextedly spend in a cell, I was lucky enough to be collected from my home by a couple of uniformed officers. I would imagine this service would vary depending on your circumstances. If you are lucky enough to be upgraded, no doubt you would receive the full armed response unit, battering ram, helicopters and dogs.

I was only entitled to the Economy Class service, but both officers were polite, well turned out (considering the unearthly hour – 4am), and the ride to the station in a police van was smooth and uneventfull. I would, however, advise against the use of handcuffs, as it can hinder your ability to prevent yourself sliding along the benches if the vehicle makes a sudden stop. But you may not be given a choice. I wasn’t.

Upon arriving at the station, the checkin service is smooth and efficient, and the staff seemed well practiced at making it as uncomfortable and disconcerting as possible. Some of the questions they ask can be a bit more personal than you might like, but this adds a certain edge to the experience. I was surprised, but not disappointed, that no physical violence was involved, though maybe this is unique to Battersea Police Station. Your mileage may vary elsewhere. I had no accidental “falls” down staircases, and managed not to catch my head on the edge of a desk.

They have facilities for storing any items you may have brought with, such as shoe laces, any form of jewellery, money, keys and other day to day items. You will be allowed to keep cigarettes, should you be a smoker, but will not be allowed to take matches or cigarette lighters in with you as smoking is not allowed in the cells. I can appreciate this touch of irony.

Once inside the cell, you may be disappointed to find a lack of entertainment facilities. A bed, toilet, and sink is all they have to offer, and the view from the window is ruined slightly by the bars, but since the window is made with thick translucent glass that only allows strong daylight to enter the room, calling it a view would be misleading.

The only reading material is that gernerously supplied by previous occupants in the form of grafitti on the walls, floor, door, ceiling, or any other surface that can be scratched, chewed, smeared, or written on so as to leave some record of ones existance. Some of these personal comments are amusing, some lewd, some crude, some just plain incomprehensible. You would be hard pushed not to find something that would cause you stop and think. You might not be thinking very pleasant thoughts, but you would be thinking…

Breakfast is laid on, and is actually quite pleasant if you enjoy roadside cafe food. And don’t think too hard about how it was prepared, and might have been through on the way to your cell. And if you can ignore your surroundings. Its surprising how messy people can be, and how someone can leave a bloody face print on a ceiling I couldn’t reach is beyond me.

Anyway, I whiled away the day singing punk songs in the mistaken belief that my friends ahd also been arrested and were in neighbouring cells and I was keeping their morale up. I was to discover later that when arrested, you are all taken to your local police station, not dumped in one.

So would I recommend Battersea Police Station? I wouldn’t say it was a bad place, and I imagine it ranks far higher than most Eastern Block ones, but I wouldn’t choose to go there voluntarily. But then nobody does, do they?

All characters appearing in this work are completely fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Really.

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