It's 6 am, I've 18 months service and I'm in a convoy of 3 police vehicles on route to execute a drug warrant at an address. The information is that the resident there, Billy T. Burglar (his middle name is 'The') has been given gainful employment by Mr Big to sell drugs from his home. Neighbours have complained about the number of Living Dead arriving at the location at all times of day and night. It's my first operation, 'given' to me by CID in order to help me develop. In reality this means that there will be little or no drugs at the address, otherwise they would have dealt with it themselves. Nevertheless, the planning of the operation has been a worthwhile exercise and even if I get a small amount of drugs it's another arrest and one that will please my reporting sergeant.
We arrive and stealthily creep up to the door. Everyone gets in position before PC Lump, chosen for the task due to his gargantuan frame, casually forces the door open with one delivery from his size 14 boot. I told him to use the enforcer during the briefing. Everyone told me he wouldn't. The officers go into each room to secure them, shouting 'clear!" as they do so. One brings Billy T into the living room, he's placed on the sofa, given a copy of the warrant and told to sit still.
The drugs dog comes in and begins its search. It goes to the television in the corner of the room, stands on its hind legs and begins sniffing the air. It's a find. I go to the television and look behind it and can see that the back is loosely fitted. I open it and at the bottom I see a large plastic blue bag. Inside is about £500 worth of heroin. I'm not just delighted at finding such a sizable quantity of drugs, I'm relieved to have found something so that the senior PC's won't tell me afterwards, "What a sh*t job that was probbie, thanks for getting me out of bed at 5 in the f*cking morning for f*ck all."
I tell Billy T he's under arrest and put a handcuff on one wrist. I take hold of his other to do the same, and he lets out a gut-wrenching scream. He drops from the sofa onto his knees, doubled in pain, tears rolling down his face. I ask him what's wrong and he rolls up the sleeve of his shirt. The arm - from the elbow down to the very tips of his fingers - is yellow. It's swollen to four times the size it should be, dotted with weeping open sores, the stench from which immediately fills the room. I take the handcuff off his other arm, walk him out to the van and take him back to the station. No words of comfort are offered.
After he is booked in I go to CID and offer the interview to them, maybe they can find out who Mr Big is. "Nah, too busy." I tell the custody sergeant, who goes into a blind rage that CID are always too busy. He devises a plan to get back at them, which is to bail Billy T back to CID without consulting the detective I spoke to. I will take Billy T to the hospital and leave him there. He won't fail to answer his bail or leave the area. He might get a beating from Mr Big's thugs for losing the heroin, but he's had many such beatings before for 'sampling' too much of the drugs he is trusted to sell.
Another probbie is given the task of taking him to the hospital with me. The doctor asks us to stay whilst he gives treatment to Billy T. He's dealt with him before and received a punch in the nose for his troubles after refusing to prescribe him methadone. He looks at Billy T's arm and decides to take a sample of blood to determine what infection he has. He can't take it from the infected arm, or the uninfected one, or either of his legs, not even his feet. The veins have all long since died.
The doctor tells Billy T that he will have to take a sample from a vein in his groin. Billy T angrily responds with, "No. No f*cking way. I'm not a scag-head. Scag-heads stick needles in their groin. Try my f*cking arm." Strange. Billy T has a depth of desperation that he will not stoop to. He will never inject into his groin. It's too desperate. It's what the desperate drug addicts do. The scag-heads. The Living Dead who are that much closer to death than he is. The doctor sighs and inserts the needle into his uninfected arm. He draws back on the syringe and I watch as flakes of dried, black blood flutter into the chamber.
The doctor thinks for a moment, then tells Billy T that the only other way he can take a sample is from the artery in his neck. He says to do it, but the doctor feels obliged to tell him that it will be extremely painful. The pressure of the blood flowing through that artery will press against the needle, and Billy T will feel it. He will feel it bad. "I don't care," he says, "you're not putting that needle in my f*cking groin." The doctor inserts a small injection port into his neck, in which he will then insert the syringe to draw the blood. Only he doesn't get that far. The intense pain causes Billy T to let out a wail and he winces away from the doctor. The doctor tells him to take some deep breaths and relax. It won't hurt; the worst is over. The doctor tells us he feels comfortable to be alone with Billy T now, and we can go.
We're driving back to the station talking about Billy T. The Living Dead always look like they will die soon. Only they never do. They just carry on. Stealing. Contributing nothing. Taking all. The control room calls me over the radio. "The hospital have just rang. Billy T has sneaked out without receiving any treatment. They're concerned because he still has the injection port in his neck."
Well done Billy T, you're a genius. You can inject your next few doses of heroin directly into the artery in your neck. You're not a scag-head. Things haven't got that bad yet.