24 Hours in Police Custody, Channel 4 - TV review


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The Independent Culture

No one ever claimed Grantchester would provide an accurate portrayal of policework, did they? If that was what you were after, 24 Hours in Police Custody (Channel 4) had an episode focused on Luton Police Station's dedicated "honour based violence" unit.

In custody this week was a 60-year-old devout Muslim, arrested on suspicion of beating his 26-year-old daughter with an iron, because he disapproved of her marriage. He wanted to know if the cell had facilities for prayer. "A Koran, the prayer mat, the works, we've got it here," boasted the desk sergeant, before telling his colleague to consult an iPhone app to find the direction of Mecca.

Luton would pass their religious sensitivity test with flying colours, but the real hero of this episode was DC Rachel Chandler. Self-described "ditzy... girly girl", Rachel likes online shopping, lip balm, pink sparkly nails and, oh yeah – kicking some serious bad-guy butt. Underestimate her at your peril.

As detailed in this episode, so-called "honour" crimes are among the most difficult to investigate. Families can refuse to give statements, the CPS can quibble over definitions and the victims themselves may mistrust the police. It seemed certain that the abusive father would get off. Not on Rachel's watch. The closing titles informed us of his three-year sentence and DC Chandler's promotion to the Major Crimes Unit. You go, girl.