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Prescott backs police interference

Elected police commissioners should be able to interfere in force operations, Lord Prescott said as he explained why he was standing for the role.

The Labour former deputy prime minister said he had stopped officers evacuating an entire street when the Metropolitan Police raided a house containing suspected terrorists in Forest Gate, east London, in 2006.

The Government has claimed the new police commissioners will not be able to interfere in the operational independence of forces.

And 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.

He said: "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."

Citing the 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 'S** 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."

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.


From Belfast Telegraph