A custody sergeant at Lincolnshire Police says he enjoyed featuring on Channel 5’s Inside The Force: 24/7 and working busy weekends in the city centre, despite strains on funding and resources.
Dan Cooper worked at Nottinghamshire Police for over a decade before moving to the Lincolnshire force four years ago, where his role includes working in custody, being out on the beat, and more. He featured in the eight-part series produced by Mentorn Media on Channel 5, which was filmed as the lockdown restrictions eased in summer 2021.
The Lincolnite went to South Park station to meet Sergeants Rosy Elkins (read interview with Rosy here) and Dan Cooper to speak about their time on the Channel 5 show and their work at the lowest funded police force in the country.
Sergeant Cooper is no stranger to television appearances having appeared on ‘Cops UK: Bodycam Squad’ during his time at Nottinghamshire Police, and he admitted he loved tuning in on Monday nights to watch Inside The Force: 24/7.
He told The Lincolnite “it’s unusual” being followed around by TV cameras but that “you get used to it after a while, it’s our job, we’re not film stars”.
He said: “I enjoyed watching it and I’d happily do it again. Obviously, amongst ourselves we all take the mickey out of each other, so we’ve had a bit of a laugh and a giggle at ourselves on the TV.
“I’ve been recognised a few times when I’ve been out and about like in Starbucks and Morrisons, and we like to have a look at Twitter to see what the comments are.”
Lincolnshire Police is said to be the lowest funded force in the country, and this often puts a strain on resources with officers having to cancel rest days, or sometimes annual leave.
Sergeant Cooper believes the force was “shown in a good light” in the Channel 5 show, but said: “I suppose every police force is under a lot of pressure at the moment. There’s been constant cuts, we have minimal staff. We have the right amount of staff to manage the jobs that are coming in, but you can’t predict everything can you, as you’ve seen on the show.
“Sometimes we’ve got nine police officers out and we can only go to as many jobs as those nine police officers can attend so sometimes people have to wait.”
In episode five, response officers patrolled Lincoln city centre to deal with the busiest night of 2021 as nightclubs reopened for the first time in almost two years as lockdown restrictions eased. With numerous arrests made, custody ran out of cells for the first time in nearly two years.
Sergeant Cooper said: “Every person that comes into custody is a judgement call for the custody sergeant. People get arrested and those arrests are always lawful, it’s whether we deem as a custody sergeant that it’s necessary to keep that person there.
“So whereas some people you may accept all the time, when you think ‘yeah, come in, because I’ve got plenty of space’, if it starts to get more full you have to maybe go through a bit more of a decision process to decide ‘does that person really need to be here at this moment or can I deal with them later?
“Jobwise that was an unprecedented time. None of us had experienced anything like that in our whole lives. Everybody had been cooped up, locked up in their houses, so Lincolnshire Police had planned for what that sort of unlock weekend was going to be like.
“I don’t think anybody could really predict exactly what would happen and that was probably one of the busiest weekends I’ve ever worked as a police officer.”
The behind-the-scenes television documentary showed how Friday nights and weekends in particular were often a big strain on the force, and Sergeant Cooper added: “Being honest, I quite enjoy a Friday and Saturday night. Friday and Saturday nights are a different style of policing.
“You know you can’t go out and take statements from people that you would normally do and you focus in on the town centre. There’s a lot of people that go out and 99% are just law abiding citizens that want to have a good night.
“But there’s that little percentage that wants to cause problems and don’t want to listen when the police say ‘you’ve had enough, go home’. If they just listened and did what we asked there wouldn’t be half as many problems as there is. But when they’ve had a drink, it’s quite difficult to get through to some people.”
He added: “You’ve always got a thought in the back of your head ‘does this person need to be arrested?’. We give them plenty of opportunity where we can to listen to advice and if they don’t, ultimately they have to come in, and if that means the cells start filling up then that’s how it has to be.”
Chief Inspector Daryl Pearce said: “There have been a small number of occasions where South Park has reached its capacity since it opened.
“We have four custody suites across the county and a business continuity arrangement with our neighbouring forces which means that we would never be in a position where arrested persons were “turned away”.
“We prioritise the management of detained persons to minimise transport of arrested persons. The force has heat mapping data which provides us information about demand across all aspects of policing which allows us to move our resources to meet that demand.”
Sergeant Cooper had a more prominent role in episode seven regarding an urgent call which came in about someone being harassed at a taxi rank, involving a physical altercation and footchase between Dan and the suspect.
He said: “If he’d just stopped and had a conversation with me he would have been told to quieten down, wind his neck in and go home, and that would have been an end of the matter.
“But then he wants to have a fight straightaway, I’m not really built for fights and I don’t want to fight with anybody, I’d rather just let them go home. But sometimes you don’t have the option do you?.”
Bizarre things said by people arrested
In Inside The Force: 24/7 one suspect tried to make reference to the Magna Carta and knowing his rights, so Sergeants Cooper and Elkins were asked for the strangest things someone being arrested or taken into custody had said to them.
Sergeant Cooper said: “I had a burglar once that I caught in the house wearing the lady’s socks on his hands, because he didn’t take any gloves.
“As I opened the door, and I said ‘what the hell are you doing?’. He said ‘how did I get here?’. [I said] ‘you’re going to have to come up with something better than that mate, you’re under arrest’.”
Sergeant Elkins added: “I had a drink driver the other night who tried to tell me that, even though we’d tracked his car on CCTV, because he was in a private car park we definitely couldn’t arrest him because he’d done no wrong. He was very upset when we then took him into custody.”