Matador Books (Troubador) 2010
All books for review to Rob Jerrard Please
Stab Proof Scarecrows
Author: Lance Manley
ISBN: 978 1848762978
Publication Date: 2009
In the Biography on the Internet it says of Lance Manley the Author
'Born in 1970 Lance Manley grew up as the glorious days of Benny Hill, corporal punishment and war comics were dying out and a new era of Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep, non-competitive sports days and ASBOs was being ushered in enthusiastically by wallflower warriors.
After years of doing many jobs (from teacher to security guard) Lance joined the City of London Police as a Special Constable and later another Force as a paid full time officer.
Now a wanderer of no permanent abode Lance has decided to put his opinions on the dire state of the English Police into words.
Stab Proof Scarecrows is Lance's first book. It will get up a lot of people's noses but will also make a lot more people realise that even the good old British Bobby is sick of the current state of law enforcement.'
Well, where do you go after that? Lance joined the City of London Police as a Special Constable and in his words,
“The modern Special Constabulary are a supplementary arm of the UK Police Forces. Specials are volunteer cops who take a condensed Basic Training and are issued with a Warrant Card that gives them all the powers of a Regular officer whether on or off duty. They also have a uniform 99% identical to their Regular counterparts, only differences being that most Forces put 'SC' on the epaulettes above the Force number and higher ranking Specials have different insignia to the Regulars. They receive no money beyond travel and subsistence expenses and no perks apart from those in the Met, British Transport Police or COLP as they get to travel for free on public transport within London with the Warrant Card.”
I must admit I did not realise that City of London Specials had free travel and I was unaware (unless things have changed) that, “City of London police officers swear allegiance to the Corporation of London and not the Monarch like every other force”. I clearly recall taking the oath before a City of London Magistrate at the Mansion House and I swore allegiance to the Queen.
I was expecting a factual account, but on Page 5 the author refers to Umgowa Street and West Avenue? If memory serves me correct there are mostly streets in the City of London. No Avenues at all.
To sum up, it is a book which contains very many personal views and allegations, being the view of one man who spent a short time as a Special and after joining the force as a Regular, failed to make it through the two year Probationary period.
The City of London come out well, but the same cannot be said of the force he joined which may have been Kent Constabulary? I say may, because Lance leaves a few clues, one being the badge depicted on the front cover.
It is difficult to express views upon the opinions given by the Author because Police training has changed drastically in the last twenty years. However, I will end by saying that if it is as bad as he says, I see little future for the service if it continues with these methods, because it appears to have become unduly complicated and is focussed too much on diversity. Police Offices must trust each other and work together, the last thing you want, if Lance is to be believed, is Officers making Pocket Book entries about remarks made in the canteen.
Well you did it Lance, you wrote it all down - now at last you can move on. One good thing, your experience with the City of London Police was good, because you say you were proud to have served with them. So was I. Take that through life as many of us do.
Prisoners, Property and Prostitutes and other things beginning with 'P'
Author: Tom Ratcliffe
Publishers: Matador (Self Publish)
Publication Date: 2009
Publisher's Title Information
More by accident than judgement and utterly unprepared, Tom Ratcliffe embarks on a career as a Police Officer. Within weeks of joining he is dealing with some very unsavoury and untrustworthy characters - and that was just his fellow officers.
Alongside his own story he introduces colleagues and their experiences with enormous humour and compassion. A born storyteller, he paints a glorious portrait of aspects of life and humanity which lie hidden from mainstream society.
Tom shares story after story with the reader as his career moves along, resulting in an original, entertaining and poignant social commentary. He considers life seen alternately from inside and outside the Police, allowing the reader to stand alongside the author in some parts, and look in at a safe distance from the 'normal' world in others.
Prisoners, Property and Prostitutes makes the reader sit up and look around them, amazed at what is going on just beneath the surface of 'normal' society. If 'man is an animal', then while some of those animals may be in the Police, the rest could well be sitting next to you on the bus, serving you in a shop, or even in your own family.
If it was written as fiction it would be entertaining - the fact it is true makes it a real page-turner.
Readers from every walk of life will find this book amusing, fascinating and moving as they either nod sagely in agreement, throw their hands up in horror, or laugh helplessly out loud as Tom's story unfolds. Read this and you will never look at your fellow human beings in the same light again.
From Chapter One
When I was a small boy I had no real idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I admired both my parents - my father was a businessman who always seemed calm, confident and compassionate, well turned out and efficient. My mother performed that unsung role of being the woman behind a successful man, or more accurately right beside him through all the problems that life throws at a couple. This included myself and my older brother, who I am sure unwittingly provided the usual round of ups and downs that offspring do, and which my parents managed to survive without too much permanent emotional and financial scarring. In my later teens I had visions of combining my ability with languages with my love of money by learning Arabic, and thus making a fortune in the Middle East. Doing exactly what in the Middle East I was unsure, but it seemed a good idea…..
One day a cutting arrived advertising 'Graduate entry into the Police Service'. It had a certain appeal - a friend of my father's had been a senior officer in a Scottish force, and on the odd occasion I met him he seemed a sensible man who was happy with his life. He also let me have a go with a revolver he used to carry at all times - a permitted consequence of a career spent locking up Glasgow's finest.
As I thought about it I saw that this career fitted a lot of my criteria. Working with people, varied conditions and doing something useful. Something whereby at the end of a career I might be able to look back and think I had (possibly) made a slight difference. Despite what you may read later, I am pleased to say that in this respect I was right. Another rather urgent aspect was that I was getting nearer and nearer to the end of my final year at University, and I had developed an amazing ability to talk myself into whatever job I felt I had even the remotest hope of getting.
So I applied for the Accelerated Promotion entry scheme for the Police. This was a scheme open to graduates, which as the name suggests allowed for rapid promotion through the ranks. I liked the sound of this - I didn't have a mission to save humanity so much as a wish to be paid lots of money, and this looked like the way to do it. I filled in a long form on which I had to tell far fewer lies than on most applications, and was eventually called to interview at the headquarters of my chosen force.
Wearing my 'interview' suit and looking uncharacteristically well-groomed for a student, I sat before the Chief and Deputy Chief Constable and gave polite, reasoned answers to a number of questions, and at the end of it was asked if I had any questions. Only one -'when will I know the outcome of the interview?' My confidence was never high during interviews, and although I thought I had done reasonably well in this one, I had by now convinced myself I had probably not persuaded these very powerful men that they were looking at the future of modern policing. So after my 80 or more other job applications and a dozen or so unsuccessful interviews, my hopes were once again dwindling. 'Wait outside and we'll let you know in a few minutes,' they said. Wow! At least that was a change from the two or three week delay before most employers sent their rejection letters, which usually thanked me for my interest in their company (pull the other one) and wished me luck in my chosen career (like hell they did). Ten minutes later I had my news - no, not good enough for accelerated promotion, but was I interested in joining on the normal scheme? Yes, of course I was. Who ends an interview saying they didn't basically want the job? I was still confident that by the time they recontacted me with a vacancy I would already be on the executive ladder elsewhere, but they seemed nice people and I didn't want to be in the bad books of my local Police.
Three months later, still no job offers, and they wrote to me - come for a weekend assessment, very' outward bound' and no smoking allowed, so low-scoring on two counts for me. But the prospect of any job was better than none, so off I went. To my enormous surprise I enjoyed it - I was put with nine other men, none of whom I had ever met before, and made to do things ranging from raft building to standing up and talking non stop for a minute on spontaneously nominated subjects. It wasn't difficult to see what they were looking for - ability to think fast, assess different situations, and most importantly get on well with a group of strangers when you are all tired and under pressure. So the lad who blew his nut and called everyone a 'bunch of wankers'may have been correct, but was out. The rest of them must have been pretty unpromising because only two of us got through, me and an ex-merchant Navy bloke. We hit it off from the start and worked as a pair for much of the weekend, both of us seeming to share the same sense of humour and a slightly cynical, laconic approach to life. At the end of the weekend I asked him how he thought he had done, and was slightly disappointed when he said he usually did well in selection procedures as he made a point of keeping close to someone far more hopeless than himself. Oddly enough we have remained in contact and on good terms since.