CONCRETE walls surrounded me, and there was nothing to do but wait.

I was sitting on a concrete bench and I didn't want to be here long.

Then the worst part, the door slammed shut with a bang, which made me jump.

It's a lonely place inside a holding cell, and somewhere I never want to be again.

My colleague Kara Paradies and I had the opportunity to experience what it's like to be locked up in the Rockhampton watch house.

Acting Inspector Ian Hutcheison took us through the paces of what someone goes through when they are arrested.

Act Insp Hutcheison said police in the watch house could see anywhere from two to 10 people during a busy Friday and Saturday night, with many people coming in for offences due to their drunken behaviour.

Being brought into the watch house in a paddy wagon would be an experience in itself you'd never want to do again, but once you're there, you head straight into a holding cell where you are searched for weapons and to calm down if necessary.

"When people come in they are at their worst," Act Insp Hutcheison said.

The police deal with a lot more than just those who have drunk too much.

"Some people will have been here a few hours and that's when they start licking their wounds and feeling bad, that's when sometimes the thought of self-harm starts," Act Insp Hutcheison said.

The watch house staff has to keep a close eye on all prisoners in case someone is acting out, trying to hurt others or even themselves.

That's when prisoners head to the padded cell.

As we walked into the padded cell, I wanted to walk straight out.

When the door closed, you are closed off from the world with all your liberties taken away.

Act Insp Hutcheison, who has been in the police force for 27 years, has seen it all when it comes to the watch house.

He says if you are arrested on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll most likely be sharing a cell and you don't know who you will be in there with.

"When you're in the watch house, you don't choose who your room mate is," he said.

Act Insp Hutcheison explained officers could have someone in the watch house for a serious crime, such as stabbing, then an 18-year-old is there because they got out of hand while drinking.

He said that no matter the crime, "you will be treated like every prisoner".

When someone is arrested for an alcohol-related matter they'll spend hours in a concrete cell until they have sobered up, can understand what they've been charged with and then they'll be let go.

Act Insp Hutcheison doesn't want to see people in the watch house, but if they find themselves there, he hopes they'll reflect on what they've done.

If you think you can play up while drinking and not get punished, Act Insp Hutcheison wants you people to think again.

"We never have the no vacancy sign up here, we'll always find room," Act Insp Hutcheison said.


There's usually a watch-house at a police station and police have the power to:

Search you and your clothes, bag etc

Take property from you

Take your fingerprints and photographs

Take DNA samples for more serious offences.

Not give you bail and keep you locked up until you go to court (you can then apply for bail)