“He’s gone, he’s f**king run off!” His face screws up all contorted, squeezing out an accusation: “I f**king told you this would happen…”

I am trying to avoid his eyes while I think. This looks like an incident and that means activating our incident plan and procedures. We are barely half an hour into the first day of the working week.

Step one…a search party is formed and we search!

LandWorks is not for everyone, and while we haven’t actually lost anybody as yet, occasionally a man has had to leave.

One of the most troubling reasons for removing somebody is suspicion. Suspicion of smuggling. Arranging to get contraband (drugs and now tobacco) onto the site and then smuggled into HM Prison.

A few techie terms for you… contraband arriving ‘in’ is know as ‘the drop’. The man assigned to carry ‘the drop’ is known as ‘the mule’. And the mule will ‘cheek’ (see below) part of the drop to transport it away.

The art of ‘cheeking’ is not – I suspect – for everyone and comes with a ‘don’t try this at home’ type of warning. The goods are wrapped, cling film, condom etc. and then inserted between cheeks, no madam the other cheeks. Some mules, as is the way of such things, boast about how much they have carried… all behind them now, of course!

To be honest, one of the hardest parts of this job is building months of trusting relationships, then starting to wonder if something is going on. Little clues, odd behaviour, but surely he can’t be, I know him, why would he?

Why do us over? Well money, huge amounts, really huge amounts, extreme pressure and a threat of severe violence, old drugs debt or I don’t know, maybe it just gives you the same buzz as it did doing deals on the outside.

Fortunately it’s rare, very rare, but one small incident can taint a lot of good work.

“Chris I f**king warned you ‘bout this, he looked twitchy last week”

Yeah, so far the search had turned up very little! Then came the cry, from over by our other pond “ Got something”; we raced over not sure what we would find.

Mercedes our erstwhile terrapin had somehow got out and found the only other source of water on the field.

Great relief all round.

Incident plan stood down, now all I have to do is explain (umpteenth time) to a grown man that Mercedes is a girl… Slightly worrying really, because he named her!