John Prescott and rival thrash out visions for top Humberside police and crime role
LORD Prescott traded blows with his fellow Labour contender in their respective bids to become Humberside's first directly elected police and crime commissioner.
The two men outlined their reasons for wanting the top job in the police force at a hustings debate held in the new Grimsby Institute university building.
Both Lord Prescott and his rival, former chief superintendent Keith Hunter, spoke of their visions for the Force if they were elected.
The debate in front of an audience of Labour party activists and councillors came on the same day former Prime Minister Tony Blair backed his former deputy Prescott in his bid to become the directly elected police and crime commissioner.
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Mr Blair said: "John was a terrific deputy to me and someone who understood the need to be tough on crime and the causes of crime.
"That is why I am backing him to be a great police and crime commissioner."
The endorsement was welcomed by Lord Prescott, but Mr Hunter, who has previously been in command of police in Hull, told the Grimsby Telegraph : "I am sure the good people of Grimsby don't need Tony Blair to tell them how to vote."
The 50-year-old walked up to the debating chamber on the third floor of the building – while the former Hull East MP, who is 74-years-old next week, used the lift – and criticised his rival's plan to create a tier of bureaucracy by having commissioner representatives.
Lord Prescott said his campaign was to protect the legacy of Labour's policies on crime and disorder which, he claimed, halved crime.
He attacked the Home Secretary Theresa May's proposals for a new form of antisocial behaviour order and her proposals for a National Crime Agency, adding that he would make Chief Constables answerable to the Home Secretary.
Attacking the centralisation of police and a new tier of bureaucracy, he told Labour party members: "I thought the Commissioner was the one the Chief is answerable to."
He said he wanted the new commissioner and the crime commission panel to tour Humberside's constituencies in the same way he had organised the Government Cabinet to hold its meetings around the country, when Labour was in power.
He said: "By meeting regularly in different parts you de-centralise decision-making."
Mr Hunter, a senior officer with 30 years service in the Force, urged Labour Party members to vote for him, adding that he wanted to have a police crime commissioner representative in each of the 10 constituencies within the Humberside Police area.
He also pledged to appoint a deputy commissioner, but added Lord Prescott had ruled himself out of the deputy's role.
He added that he had been responsible for multi-million pound budgets within Humberside Police, as well as leading murder investigations and redesigning intelligence gathering within Humberside Police and that he believed the new commissioner should also be responsible for partnerships.
He said: "You never know until the votes are cast. I have had really good feedback."
Find out more
The result of the ballot is expected later next month. The first elections for the role of commissioner for each of England's police forces will take place on November 15. Keep checking your Grimsby Telegraph for updates.