When Carlin arrives at the borstal, Sands is determined to make his life as hard as possible, due to the fact that he assaulted an officer at his former borstal. Therefore, when his main weapon Banks and his stooge Richards, are defeated by Carlin, he is frustrated and desperately tries to get them to name Carlin as the attacker; when Banks and Richards both use the standard excuse of having "slipped," Sands pursues Carlin himself and tries to slap and taunt him into fighting back, but to no avail.
Later on, Sands witnesses the rape of Davis while peering through the window of the greenhouse in which it is taking place and does nothing but smile to himself. He is also a savage racist, as seen when he rains a torrent of racial abuse down on Angel on his first day, saying that "if you steal a white man's motor car, you get white man's stick!"
In many ways, Sands represents the cruelty and brutality of the system.
(To Carlin) "I'm 'aving you, lad...you banged that officer at Rowley, and you must be thinking you've walked quietly away from that one! But he's 'ere...he's ME...he's every f***ing screw in this borstal, every one of us!"
John Judd plays Sands a little cooler in the screenplay version, but punctuates it with sudden, chilling bursts of fury and meanness that would later be used to even more dramatic effect in the 1979 remake.