I was leaving my friend’s house at the time.
I came out of the flats and immediately the police pulled up beside me.
“We are in a high crime area and you fit a description of a suspect” they told me.
They hand cuffed me. Put me in the back of the van and took me to the station.
When we arrived the police took my fingerprints and led me to a cell.
“When am I going to get interviewed” I asked “what am I here for?”
“When I feel like it” the officer replies “We’re going to get our lunch”, and he closed the cell door.
What felt like a whole day later an entirely different officer collected me and took me to a small room and read a statement.
“The suspect in question was a 5 foot ten Somalian male wearing a blue track suit” it read, I’m 5 foot 4 and had been wearing my jeans and blue shirt. I am also from Ghana.
Several hours after reading the statement and sending me back to my cell, a new police officer collected me and issued an NFA, No Further Action. “Sorry about that” they said and released me.
I couldn’t understand why I was treated as guilty before innocent but what was even harder was how dehumanising the whole experience was.
You can’t leave people in a cell without any information or an update on their situation, I felt like I was treated like an animal.
It seems like it’s just simple human skills that aren’t being practiced. You get a different officer every time who knows nothing about your case and has to start the process again with the same questions, it makes you feel crazy.
The cells themselves are especially dehumanising. You feel like you’re being treated like a High Risk suspect, isolated and alone. They don’t check in with you for such a long time, it’s hell.
At least in America suspects are held in cells with other people, there’s human contact at least. Here you think you’re on your own, with no sense of the situation, no answers.
The whole time bad scenarios are running through your head. What if there was a riot? What if there was a fire? I’m alone in this… You just feel so lost.
All you can hear is the stuff and commotion outside. Most of the time you’re just listening for the prison guard’s feet or keys. You’re getting treated the same as a dangerous criminal.
I felt so powerless, my legs were jelly, sometimes I couldn’t breathe.
You can understand how it could send you mad, the lack of communication. I think police officers should have to receive mental health training to understand the impact. You can meet all the standards to be a police officer but what about mental health issue and awareness.
You can see how an experience like this could develop into Paranoia or even Schizophrenia, When I got back to my house after the arrest I felt uncomfortable being in my room, paranoid, looking at the door every few minutes.
Everyone says they’d rather go straight to jail then have to be held in a cell.
It’s the dehumanisation that’s the problem.
In society we are taught to accept that police officers and people in uniform have power and are to be trusted, but in reality the officer is only ever as good as the human wearing the uniform.
Anonymous male aged 24 years old from London.
To read more on young people's experience of the justice system, read our 'Youth people's voices on youth court' here.