Alot of your time in custody is spent dealing with Force Medical Examiners (FME). These in days gone by were known as the police surgeon. They come and attend to the needs of our "customers" on demand. So if you are currently suffering from winter illness and heed government advice to not clog up the system and bother your GP, (if you could get an appointment within a week), think of our underclass who after getting booked in demand to see the doctor with the click of their fingers.
These doctors work on a rota and cover several custody suites in a designated area. They also attend sudden deaths and suicides to pronounce life extinct, and a host of other important tasks vital to crime investigation, such as taking samples, assessing when a prisoner is fit for interview, and recording evidence of injuries. They are often used as witnesses in court. These are good professional people well respected by all custody officers.
This comes at a cost. I think it's about 50 quid a throw for a first examination, which all adds up. The government is now looking to save money under the guise of improving efficiency and standards. They intend to do this by imposing new contracts on the FME's after negotiations broke down. The Metropolitan Police now find themselves in a position where as of 12th January they will have no medical cover as 75% of the doctors have declined to work on the new system.
One assumes that they will try and cover this shortfall by using agency medical staff. How they are going to train them up to use the custody computer in such a short time who knows. No doubt these medical agencies will charge large amounts as they do for nurses to cover NHS shortages. It would appear this is abit of an avoidable mess, but the Home Office are very good at being incompetent and imposing things. So what are they going to do? Nobody knows including the custody officers. Should be fun when "Joe Slag" clicks his fingers and nobody comes to pander to him.
Of course if it's about saving money they could do the proper and right thing and charge some detainees for these services. Self inflicted drunkenness is one area where cash could be recouped. Tell "Joe Slag" he will be charged hard cash to see the doctor for his toothache and he might just be able to hang on.
We shall see what happens next week.