Keep politics out of policing, says Met chief

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The independence of police to decide how best to fight crime must not be compromised, Britain's most senior officer said yesterday.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, said officers must remain aloof from party politics. Speaking at the Police Superintendents' Association conference, he told officers that operational decisions were "ours alone".

He said: "I've been brought up in my career on the inviolate principle of police operational independence. That principle has underpinned my career. It will continue to underpin my commissionership."

The speech was Sir Paul's first public opportunity to set out his stall since he took control of the Metropolitan Police in January. Sir Paul's remarks will be seen as a rebuke to comments by a deputy of the London Mayor Boris Johnson this month. Kit Malthouse had said he and Mr Johnson "have our hands on the tiller" of the force.