Water Cannon Consultation
8 January 2014, 18:42
Londoners are going to be asked on whether the Met Police should be allowed to use water cannons to control things like rioting.
Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is reportedly "keen" for officers to have the weapons, which could theoretically have been used at the student protest at Milbank or the Countryside Alliance protest at Parliament.
Water cannons are currently not allowed on the UK Mainland, with the Home Secretary responsible for their licensing.
Theresa May has declined to make funds available for purchasing them as a national asset, meaning the Mayor will have to provide the money to pay for water cannons, should they get the go ahead.
Boris Johnson has told Heart he supports the Met having such weapons, but not them being used.
"I don't want water cannons deployed on London's streets but since the riots of 2011 there's been considerable public interest in the idea," he told Heart reporter Joe Pike.
"The argument is that there could be a very, very few occasions when that particular instrument of crowd control could make the difference for police officers - and indeed members of the public - between life and death."
Jenny Jones, London Assembly Green Party Member, is firmly against the move and has questioned Boris' vagueness over their potential use.
“Would the Mayor have supported the deployment of water cannons against students protesting against their fees going up? What happens if the Commissioner wants to deploy water cannon but the Mayor doesn’t? Londoners need to know when and in what circumstances the Mayor would agree with the Met using this weapon," she said.
“Allowing water cannons on the streets of London is a step in the wrong direction towards arming our police like a military force, and it goes against our great tradition of an unarmed police service. People have a democratic right to protest and my fear is that once the Mayor allows these weapons onto our streets we will see them being used against people exercising their legal right to protest.”
A consultation over the potential use of water cannons by the Met is expected to last until February.