Thursday, 18 April 2013


This cropped up on Amazon. Flattered by the amount of time the bloke spent on this. 

3.0 out of 5 stars Are there 2 versions of this?6 April 2013
Paul Harris (UK) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stab Proof Scarecrows (Kindle Edition)

Having read some of the other reviews people have added I think I’ve been unfortunate and got the free kindle edition that’s a self-obsessed whine about how some poor bloke volunteered somewhere and was bullied and then moved somewhere else when he got a job. Then he was bullied again, but he hadn’t done anything to deserve it and he’d manned a cordon on 7/7!!

I got this book as it was free and being an ex-Special with 7 years’ service and now with another 7 years paid work I’ve lived through many frankly idiotic government initiatives, edicts to meet targets and various ‘new’ systems and procedures (which are generally the same ones with a different name rolled out again) and now the current governments decimation of the Force(service). So I was expecting an Inspector Gadget like tale (the former blog that is) of incompetence and stupidity of the system but also humour which is the normal fare of a Copper book.

What I read was the story of a na├»ve, self-opinionated and over idealistic man who whilst a Special, manned a cordon on 7/7 and was very keen to pull out his Warrant Card off duty and get involved in everything that came across his path. Brandishing his badge before him no ‘crime’ could be ignored no minor infraction of THE LAW could be tolerated. As a result of this a ‘word’ is passed to him to rein things in bit and, accordingly, Lance ignores this advice and continues to get into scrapes off duty to the extent that as a form of censure he has the privilege of free travel on London transport removed from him.

He even seems quite proud that a Sergeant during a review states that he likes to play the hero and doesn’t see that as a criticism. Later in the book he even envisions himself emerging from burning buildings with a child under one arm and body armour smouldering (Always left fires to the professionals myself).

An Inspector realises that this guy isn’t listening to the warning he’s had and sees an opportunity to get shot of the pain in the backside, though with a classic schoolboy error he fails to see if there’s an issue first. The carpeting he’s expecting SC Manley to receive gets knocked back and all this does is highlight to Lance that a Grown- up has taken a dislike to him for no reason at all, showing how unjust the system and office politics are!!

Following manning a cordon on 7/7 Lance decides that being a full time Bobby is the only thing for him and applies to County Force where following a selection process (that he scoffs at as its been made easier to let anyone in) he scrapes a pass and becomes a Student Constable.

Here Lance is, admittedly unfortunate to become part of a training experiment (see new process/procedures above) and is treated as a student not part of a disciplined organisation. Yet even when he is meant to be learning and being guided by more experienced Officers, Lance firmly believes his set opinions are right and will not change them, after all he did man a cordon on 7/7.

Predictably he upsets his Supervisors and peers and even outside agencies that he has placements or contact with. He is outraged that the YOUTH Offending Team aren’t aware of what has happed to the ADULT Victim of a crime and makes it pretty clear that his ‘correct’ opinions were forced on the poor unfortunates at the time. Happy in the knowledge that there was an ex-squaddie in the room who he could tell agreed with him as he was looking annoyed too. That would have had nothing to do with it being last lesson on a Friday afternoon and PC Manley, yet again, decided to ask another question or voice an opinion when everyone could be on the way out of the door.

He constantly cites examples of how good he is at dealing with kids, as he used to be a teacher. When he gets a placement that’s in a school rather than flag it to point out it really isn’t going to do him any good, it becomes yet another example of how incompetent everyone else is. But he graciously doesn’t want to embarrass the trainer and let everyone see how thick she is. Not that one of his peers felt that this would be an issue and managed to raise their conflict without any ritual suicides occurring.

Once again off duty Lance, who’s dead good at dealing with kids, gets annoyed at some children messing about on a train and decides that the best way to deal with them is shout at them as he knows they’ve never had anyone stand up to them before. After all he’s a copper who manned a cordon on 7/7 and doesn’t have to put up with kiddie squabbles. So badge in hand and communication cord in the other (again!!! He does like that cord)he bawls at the kids and is again vexed by the apathy of the train staff who fail to see the seriousness of the offences these children are committing being more interested in getting their passengers where they need to be on time.

The fact that he’s being told by his trainers and supervisors that he won’t make a Copper coupled with him always getting told off with action plans for various failings is quite clearly bullying to Lance (who was brave enough to man a cordon on 7/7). So he stands up to his bullies and puts in a complaint against them. While this is investigated he is moved out their area proving (to him that is) that he is right and is being bullied. This obviously has nothing to do withthe sensible management of the situation. Personally I’ve no doubt that his ‘bullies’ were targeting him at some level but not because they just woke up one day and decided that ‘Lance Manley is a silly name. Let’s pick on him till he cries and see how ‘manly’ he really is?’ Rather that he was constantly coming to their attention and clearly not cut out for the role he was trying to shoehorn himself into.

It is the most annoying frustrating book I’ve ever read.

Like one of the other reviewers I couldn’t put it down, mainly due to the constant amazement I felt with the author. He is being as candid as he can be yet still fails to see his failings even after he’s written them down. I was hooked because I was waiting to see the moment of clarity when he looked back on everything and thought to himself ‘You know what? I was a bit of a knob’.

But it never came.

Even at the end and incredibly beyond, Lance’s blinkered and naive view continued. He decides to resign after being picked up by his tutor for not doing what he was told to do and doing instead what he decided was right on a simple VDRS form.
Notice periods are something unknown to Lance and he magnanimously agrees to work the next day – a Saturday night as it’ll be busy. The Duty Inspector comes to see him on the last night and tells him that he really should come in on the Sunday but as ‘a gift’ he needn’t bother, which Lance takes at face value.

Manley then pitches up for his final interview so he can explain why he’s been bullied out of the job and is then surprised to learn that Personnel and Management kinda think he should work his notice and countermand the Inspector who like a predecessor saw an opportunity to get rid of him quickly.

After leaving Manley then clearly badgers the Force demanding his chance to go over the same old complaints of the suffering he’s undergone which they reply to the effect that they can’t see the point. Months afterward, when they clearly reached the decision that he’s not going to go away, they let him come and moan at an ACC for 2 hours, even though all his complaints have been largely dismissed and, naturally to explain that he’d manned a cordon on 7/7.

But even this isn’t enough for Lance who was also slighted by the manager of a placement provider who clearly didn’t believe that he’d manned a cordon on 7/7. Manley packages up his generic ‘thanks for being there on the day letter’ and turns up at the placement demanding to see the manager to prove that he manned a cordon on 7/7 once and for all.

The manager isn’t available but Lance is prepared for this eventuality as he’s put contact details in with the letter so the manager can contact him to apologise for doubting his self-sacrifice and bravery in manning a cordon on 7/7. Lance never hears back from the manager and can only assume that he is too embarrassed to contact him and is consequently very, very sorry.

There are lots of things wrong with the Police and the Criminal Justice system in this country but this isn’t a social commentary it’s a book about a young in service officer who can only see things his way and believes everyone else ideas and opinions are wrong and as a result failed.

Mr Manley (and I do know that you’ll be reading this as your too self-obsessed not too) the biggest favour anyone could do you would be take your book change the names and cover and give it back to you to read, because I don’t think you have.

Did I mention he manned a cordon on 7/7?
I think he mentioned it once at the beginning but done recall if it came up again?


  1. Well...horses for courses, different strokes for different folks, one man's fish is another man's poisson, and all that.

    Clearly, the reviewer has come away from his reading with a different impression than other readers. Nevertheless, it is a cogently written review and not overly harsh or engaging in ad-hominem.

    Will you let it stand?

  2. Still 3 stars. Not bad :-) He does seem to be reading very selectively though. I recall from my reading you most definitely did point out that going into a school on placement would not be "pushing your comfort zone" but was told "well I can't change it now". Perhaps there is indeed 2 versions of the book.

    Apologies for the late comments. reading the blog in reverse chronological order and wading in with a comment just in case it pours salt on any old wounds :-)


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