Prescott: I’ll intervene in police operations if I’m made commissioner

By Oliver Hotham

John Prescott caused controversy this morning by insisting he would interfere with police operations if elected as police commissioner.

The comment raises the prospect of political battles between Lord Prescott and senior police officers. The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) Sir Hugh Orde said that many chief constables – including himself – would resign if put under direct political control.

Operational decisions are traditionally under the power of members of the police only.

In the interview with the Independent, Lord Prescott cited instances in which police had made mistakes and argued more understanding of political considerations could have prevented them.

"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," he said.

He cited a controversial police raid in 2006 whose conduct troubled him.

"At one stage the police were going to turn out all the residents of the street at 2am in the morning," he said.

"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."

He continued: "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."

Lord Prescott said he always had a cynical view of the Met, and his distrust came to a head during their handling of the phone hacking scandal, which he was directly affected by.

Former first minister of Wales Alun Michael and Falklands veteran Simon Weston are also running for commissioner positions.

Lord Prescott announced his candidacy for the newly-created position on Friday.