24 Hours in Police Custody, Channel 4 - TV review

The methodical way in which the detectives of Luton Police Station go about their investigations is always fascinating

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The Independent Culture

If anyone could do with a two-week break in the Caribbean, it's DS Chris Hutton from 24 Hours in Police Custody (Channel 4). As the first episode of the new series opened, he was inspecting the blood splatter patterns at the scene of a violent domestic dispute, which left a women blinded in one eye, a man hospitalised and a hamster unattended.

The woman's facial injuries were so horrific that seven hardened detectives gasped in unison when viewing footage. On the other hand, as DS Hutton's colleague on the serious crime team pointed out, this made the suspect's claims of innocence easier to refute: "It's not a self-inflicted injury, is it? Sticking a knife through your fucking eye, out of that eye, through your nose and into the orbit of the other eye?"

There was no mystery to solve and few dramatic confrontations, but the methodical way in which the detectives of Luton Police Station go about their investigations is always fascinating. This series is also developing its own set of predictable pleasures and familiar characters. There's always the tense interrogations scene, for instance, where every twitch of the suspect's face is captured in close-ups, and the panicked call to the CPS with only 20 minutes to go before charges have to be brought.

This time DS Hutton succeeded in persuading them to pursue attempted murder charges, prompting a celebratory jig by his desk. Light relief was also provided by the improbably girly DC Rachel Chandler, who found a loving home for that hamster. 24 Hours in Police Custody may be a documentary, but it's still the best crime drama on television.

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