The Conservative’s flagship policing reform of elected Police and Crime Commissioners has been resisted by police authorities, police staff associations and politicians across the political spectrum. There are worries about politicising policing, interference with Chief Constables’ operational independence, and mandates undermined by low turnout in November elections that the public don’t know about.
Then along came Lord Prescott, who has decided that his contribution to public life is not to be limited to memoirs and the House of Lords, but that he should be Top Of The Cops in Humberside at an age (74 by election time) 4 years beyond the compulsory retirement age for judges.
Prescott’s decision to stand, and large twitter following, immediately undermine Labour’s criticism that no-one knows about the election, but his Lordship has gone on to give an interview to the Independent which causes further trouble for his party’s case.
Besides talking of his low regard for the police, the article reveals he doesn’t accept that politicians should not be involved in police operations. This point has gone down badly with his opponent for the Labour nomination in Humberside, former Hull Chief Superintendent Keith Hunter.
In a series of tweets to Prescott (here, here, and here) he says
JP supports political interference in operational policing decisions. I don’t-clear blue water.
Once you step over the line it has gone for ever-the dangers the party warned of!
it’s also against new Policing Protocol in Act or do we just ignore the law.
This last point is vital. Parliament has now passed a policing protocol which says that operational matters are under the direction and control of Chief Constables, enshrining in legislation the very point that Labour said they wanted to protect, but that John Prescott seeks to continue to disagree with. Does Prescott expect Humberside’s Chief Constable to let this slide? Has Prescott read or understood the Protocol that will govern the new job that he seeks?
More worryingly, Prescott quotes an example of when he thinks he influenced John Reid as Home Secretary to interfere with the troubled police operation at Forest Gate in 2006, so that residents were not evacuated from their properties. In other words, Ministers interfered with police operations under the last Government, and it is only after the recent reforms that the law protects police independence.
What do you think? Is Commissioner Prescott Labour’s worst nightmare?
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