Police leader launches scathing attack on rise of political meddling in policing

One of Britain's top police officers will next week launch an unprecedented attack on the growth of political interference in the country's forces.

Ian Johnston, president of the Police Superintendents Association, will voice concerns that the 'operational independence' of senior officers is being threatened by individuals seeking 'political control' of the police.

He will call on officers to stand firm to prevent the reputation of British policing 'being damaged beyond repair'.

Ian Johnston

On the attack: Ian Johnston says some politicians are meddling too much into the affairs of policing

Mr Johnston will make his hardline comments in a speech to delegates at the association's annual conference in Warwickshire.

Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson is also expected to slam the increasing politicisation of the police when he makes a keynote address at the conference.

Sir Paul is said to be 'ready to go to war' after one of London Mayor Boris Johnson's closest aides, deputy mayor Kit Malthouse, claimed last week they (he and Boris) had seized control of Scotland Yard.

Ultra-ambitious Mr Malthouse said the pair had 'elbowed out' the Home Office an now had their 'hands on the tiller' of Britain's biggest police force.

The comments were roundly rejected as 'incorrect' by the Home Office, which warned against treating the police as a 'political football'.

Mr Malthouse's extraordinary declaration is referred to in Mr Johnston's speech, a copy of which has been seen by the Daily Mail.

He says: 'In the past two weeks we have witnessed an undisguised attempt by the Deputy Mayor of London to grasp political control of the Police.

'The Deputy Mayor informed a National newspaper with a certain degree of pride that he and the London Mayor “have our hands on the tiller”.

'He also stated that the Mayor’s Office would no longer rubber stamp whatever the Force proposes and he said “We do not want to be a passenger on the Met cruise”.

'The Deputy Mayor rejects claims that his views and actions amount to politicisation of Policing and claims that the London model was being studied by the Tory frontbench as a blueprint for its approach to law and order across Britain if they were to win next year’s General Election.

'There is now a greater than ever need for the Police Service to stand strong and resist further political interference that will, I believe, ultimately result in political control of the Police.'

Mr Johnston, who retires next Spring after 38 years as a policeman, adds: 'Simply put, I have real personal fears that political interference is growing and that it will ultimately result in our fine reputation being damaged beyond repair.

'I spoke at last year’s Conference about “keeping politics out of policing” and if we needed any proof that politics and policing do not mix we should all reflect on the actions of the London Mayor in relation to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in October last year when Boris Johnson effectively sacked Sir Ian Blair.

'So let’s get it straight  . . .

'Politicians DO pose a real threat to the operational independence of Chief Officers.

'Elected Mayors  DO pose a real threat to the operational independence of Chief Officers.'

He concludes by saying that police officers are answerable to the public and serve the Crown, not politicians.

In an outspoken finale, Mr Johnston also aims a broadside at the new breed of chief constable who, according to critics, have lots of degrees but insufficient operational experience and leadership skills.

Calling for a change in promotion procedures, Mr Johnston says: 'I would not wish to personalise this issue but there is a strong belief amongst many of our members that operational competence does not count, is not given sufficient recognition and is not a priority for those aspiring to chief officer rank.

'Quite frankly many of our members believe that too many “non-operational” applicants are passing through the process and getting jobs.

'In conclusion, I am calling for a fundamental review of the process by which the Service seeks to attract and select Chief Officers.

'This Association does not believe the current arrangements are fit for purpose.'

Home Secretary Alan Johnson is also due to address superintendents at what could be the last police conference before the General Election.

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