Labour nets ex-Met chief for policing review

By Alex Stevenson

Labour is setting up a "heavyweight" review of the future of policing in England and Wales after the coalition refused to do so.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told delegates at the party conference in Liverpool that former Metropolitan police commissioner John Stevens would lead the review.

Lord Stevens, who retired as Britain's senior police officer in 2005, has previously headed the inquiry into the death of Princess Diana, an investigation into allegations of corruption in English football and an inquiry into collusion between UK soldiers and loyalist terrorists which led to the murder of nationalists in Northern Ireland.

Labour believes the reform drive currently being pushed through by the government is "ideologically motivated" and needs more "coherence and vision".

"Now is the time for a serious vision for the future of policing – a royal commission or heavyweight independent review," Ms Cooper said.

"The government has refused to do so. So we will."

The review will assess how policing needs to adapt and respond to post-riots Britain after the "chaos and confusion" Ms Cooper said has been brought by Theresa May and David Cameron.

Ms Cooper also called on the government to scrap its plans to introduce elected police commissioners and spend the saved £100 million on keeping an extra 2,000 police constables and funding anti-gang initiatives.

"The government says we can't afford to. Communities across the country know we can't afford not to," she added.

"The taxpayer now has to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation to the businesses and families hit by riots. Far better to stop it happening in the first place. And don’t forget they can find cash for their priorities."

She said the prime minister's claim that the riots are a symptom of a broken society "sounds like a form of surrender".