John Prescott: Police Commissioners Should Be Allowed To Interfere In Operations

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Lord Prescott has said elected police commissioners should be able to interfere operational decisions
Lord Prescott has said elected police commissioners should be able to interfere operational decisions

Lord Prescott set himself on a collision course with senior police officers on Monday, after he said elected police commissioners should be able to interfere in operational decisions.

The government has claimed the new commissioners, a job John Prescott is seeking, will not be able to interfere in the operational independence of forces.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said some Chief Constables would resign if they came under direct political control.

But in an interview with the Independent, Lord Prescott said he had "a big argument" with claims that politicians should not be involved in operational decisions.

"The police always argue that [many things they do] are a matter of operations and politicians should not be involved. Well, I'm afraid I have a big argument with that," the former deputy prime minister said.

Citing a 2006 raid on a street in Forest Gate, he added: "At one stage the police were going to turn out all the residents of the street at 2am in the morning. John Reid was the home secretary and I was working with him.

"Andy Hayman, who was in charge, wanted to turn them out and I said to John Reid - no, you can't do that.

"He said 'John, it's operational'. I said 'Sod operational, there are political considerations here' - turning out a street of Asians at 2am with the allegations of a gas plot and we don't know what the evidence is for that.

"I am not against the police running the organisation, but there are times someone should just say 'Hang on - I don't think that's right. Convince me about it.'

"In that case, as we now know, one person was shot and was eventually found quite innocent."

Lord Prescott, who announced last week that he will stand for the role of police commissioner in Humberside, said he had discussed the decision with his wife, Pauline.

He dismissed criticism that he should not stand for election as he had opposed the imposition of commissioners on police forces, which will earn him a salary of £70,000 a year.

He said: "I am not a slippers man, for God's sake. My wife said to me 'I thought you and I had ended with all this stress of your job'.

"I said 'What stress? I've lived with that all the time'. She said 'No - you're going to be home six or seven days a week - it's my stress I'm worried about'."

Lord Prescott told the paper his wife thought it was time for "slippers up" now he was no longer an MP. "But I can't do that," he said. "I'd die in my slippers".

The veteran Labour politician joins former Welsh first minister Alun Michael and Falklands veteran Simon Weston on the list of well known names seeking election to the posts.

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