Prescott takes to road to do battle in police commissioner race
LORD Prescott says he wants to reduce the number of police officers being axed if he is elected as the region's first police and crime commissioner.
The former deputy Prime Minister has pledged to visit towns and villages across the Humberside force area in his "battle bus", which will be on the road for the first time today.
Lord Prescott, who is standing as the Labour candidate for the £75,000-a-year role, said he wants to know what residents from across Hull and the East Riding want to see prioritised.
Humberside Police has lost more than 200 officers in two years and stands to lose a further 205 as it looks to save £30 million before 2015.
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Lord Prescott said: "The police have a plan to cut 400 officers, which is twice the rate of most officer forces. That is concerning and there is room to challenge whether it is required.
"That is why I want to produce a Plan B. I will be using the bus to go around and ask people how they feel and what they would like to see prioritised.
"I will then draw up the plan to use during the election campaign. I want the public to help me write our manifesto because they should have a greater say over the direction of local policing."
Former senior police officer Keith Hunter, who went up against Lord Prescott for the Labour nomination, has joined the campaign as an adviser.
Mr Hunter spent eight years as the divisional commander of policing in Hull before retiring earlier this year to stand for the role.
He said: "During the campaign and the hustings, we looked for each other's negatives, but now we are looking for the positives and we are working together well."
The commissioner will replace Humberside Police Authority, which is being abolished, and will be responsible for managing the force's budget and hiring and firing the chief constable.
One of their first tasks will be to replace outgoing Chief Constable Tim Hollis, who is retiring next year.
Lord Prescott said: "Keith has a great deal of experience, which showed when we campaigned against each other. He is a valuable asset to the campaign."
When asked if he will hire Mr Hunter as his deputy if elected, Lord Prescott said: "There will be a lot of decisions to be made. A chief constable is one, a number two is another."
Lord Prescott and Mr Hunter will take the minibus, a Hyundai i800 decorated in campaign stickers, on a tour across the region from today.
They will start in Hull this morning, travelling to Goole.
Lord Prescott said he was particularly concerned about levels of drunken violence, domestic abuse and thefts.
He said: "I want to meet as many people as possible to hear about what they would like to see prioritised. I would be very surprised if I didn't visit every city, town and village during the campaign."
Lord Prescott is up against Conservative candidate Matthew Grove, UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom and Liberal Democrat candidate Simone Butterworth in the race to be elected commissioner in November.
Independents Paul Davison, a former commander of policing in the East Riding, Neil Eyre and Walter Sweeney have also announced their intent to stand.