So what do we all think to this one? Are water cannons a good idea or bad idea, as most of our readers are on the “Front line” we would love to know your thoughts on this. A late happy new year from me and be safe out there – Admin DB

So what do we all think to this one? Are water cannons a good idea or bad idea, as most of our readers are on the “Front line” we would love to know your thoughts on this. A late happy new year from me and be safe out there – Admin DB

Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer
Theresa May has rejected a request for government funds to buy water cannon, letter to Boris Johnson reveals

Boris Johnson wrote to Theresa May about water cannon this week: ‘I am aware you have declined to make funds available.’ Photograph: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

Britain’s biggest police force wants water cannon ready to be used on the streets of mainland Britain by this summer, official letters reveal.

The documents also show that a request for the government to fund the controversial purchase has been rejected by the home secretary, Theresa May.

Public consultations on the deployment of water cannon will begin within weeks and a formal decision made next month.

Water cannon have not previously been available to police on mainland Britain, and their use has been limited to Northern Ireland.

In a letter sent on Monday by Boris Johnson to May, the London mayor explains his reasoning, saying it is a direct result of the 2011 riots that started in London before spreading, becoming the most serious and widespread riots to hit England in decades.

Ultimately the home secretary has final say on the acquisition of water cannon for use in mainland Britain. Critics warn it is a step towards the militarisation of the police and could be used to stifle the democratic right to protest.

In his letter, dated 6 January 2014, Johnson writes: “Following the disorder in August 2011, both the Metropolitan police service and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary stated that there are some circumstances where water cannon may be of use in future.

“Following briefing by the [Met] commissioner I am broadly convinced of the value of having water cannon available to the MPS [Metropolitan police service] for those circumstances where its absence would lead to greater disorder or the use of more extreme force.”

The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has pledged that water cannon would be “rarely used and rarely seen”, the letter says.

His letter to May, Johnson then discusses funding: “Finally, I am aware that you have declined to make funds available for purchasing the interim water cannon solution as a national asset.

“Subject to the public engagement process … I am happy to make the necessary funds available to the MPS for the most economical interim solution that allows the commissioner to meet his desire to prevent disorder on the streets. I would expect to do this in February, following the [public] engagement.”

The latter adds that there is public support for the deployment of water cannon.

In another letter, written on Tuesday by Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing, says a formal decision to go ahead with water cannon will be made next month.

Greenhalgh wants public consultation to begin within weeks, which will involve public meetings and talks with MPs, councillors and what he describes as “stakeholders”.

The mayor’s office says water cannon would only be used in “the most extreme circumstances”.

Greenhalgh’s letter was written to Labour’s Joanne McCartney, chair of the London assembly’s police and crime committee.

The letter says: “In order to ensure that water cannon is available by next summer, something which the commissioner has been calling for, it is important that the process of engagement starts soon.”

The Green party London assembly member Lady Jones said: “Allowing water cannon 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 on to our streets we will see them being used against people exercising their legal right to protest.”

It is believed the Met are in talks with German companies about supplying water cannon in time for this summer.

The Met has approached companies about hiring or buying second-hand water cannon from overseas to have the machines available as soon as possible.

The Met is interested in acquiring around three units.

In a letter to Jones, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley detailed the training required. He wrote in July 2013 that no more than 20 staff would need to be trained in the use of water cannon and another 200 riot officers would need to be trained in how to quell disorder while working alongside water cannons.

Rowley’s letter said the use of water cannon would require authorisation by an officer of the rank of commander.

The home secretary has already signalled her sympathy for the controversial tactic.

Some within the Met have privately told the Guardian they are sceptical about the need and effectiveness of water cannon on London’s streets. They say streets here are much narrower than in Europe, where water cannon are already in use, thus making them less effective and potentially vulnerable to capture. They also say water cannon fire jets that could prove indiscriminate and strike innocent members of a crowd.

26 thoughts on “So what do we all think to this one? Are water cannons a good idea or bad idea, as most of our readers are on the “Front line” we would love to know your thoughts on this. A late happy new year from me and be safe out there – Admin DB”

  1. Peaceful protest is one thing, but this is for when it goes wrong….sadly our great public seem to think that a right to protest equals a right to riot….if this helps disperse trouble and saves cops being injured then it should be allowed……sadly our government will come out with some crap to deny it and not want to spend their expenses budget on something that would help for a change

  2. It is time this country took back the power to do what it believes to be right and if the public wants water cannon or rubber bullets the government should allow this to happen, and not worry about what the do-gooders in society & the European numpties say.

  3. Should have had them from the start. Its a joke we just sit back and don’t have the tools to control yobs when they want to kick off. They throws stones bricks and bottles at us and ‘do-gooders’ whinge when we want to throw WATER back. I’m getting so tired of this job (and country)…

  4. I support water cannon as the need for it is startlingly obvious. At least it could be used to snuff out minor fires before they take hold otherwise we will see whole blocks burning like last time. Either give them water cannon or harden some fire engines so the fire brigade can intervene alongside police or preferably both please.

  5. I’m pro water cannon!
    I don’t think many front-liners will say no to water cannons. I think we do an awesome job with one arm behind our backs already!
    I’m having a laugh reading the comments too!

  6. Wouldn’t mind seeing them most countries use them and it breaks up a riot swiftly and without endangering any officers. I wouldn’t trust Boris to fight your corner after all he promised no fire station closures and 10 busy ones closed today.

  7. From a fan who wanted to be kept anon:

    Fan: With ref to your water cannon post. I am a Cannoneer in PSNI and can say that on several occasion they have been made available for use on the mainland, latterly being the London riots last year. We had been stood up and Cannons were loaded and booked onto the Ferry for travel until shortly before departure time it was deemed unnecessary for us to leave.

    Admin DB: Oh, I think I read about that. what are your experiences? are they effective?

    Fan: They are limited, they work well in “our” Public Order situations ie keeping rioters at a safe distance, they probably wouldn’t be as effective in a “running” riot.

    Contrary to belief as the first post shows the water isn’t heated or warmed to prevent them getting a chill lol it is kept at a temperature so that it doesn’t freeze etc.

    Personally after being an operator for past 7 years I think they are ageing slightly and could definitely be improved. We bought ours on the back of Drumcree where we borrowed cannons from Belgium and bought 6 of the same, I think we could buy better more a more modern one as ours are starting to break a lot.

  8. Think I disagree with that Ross, just because there wernt any riots in Scotland on THAT occasion, doesn’t mean there’s a big policing difference (yes I do know there are some) it’s like saying clearly my county is better at Policing because we didn’t have riots?!
    It’s an example of how riots could have been clamped down on and even the threat of one could prevent something like that happening again – I.e merely it’s presence. I agree with it, I don’t think it’s militant, it’s moving with the times. Policing and force has to change, that’s why we have body armour, taser, cs, firearms…we are no longer safe behind just a cape and whistle! Hence why things have moved forward!! I think it has to to keep the peace and prevent wide scale disorder and injury to Police and Public. We already have less facilities now. Bring it on I say. Take it out the money laying around for the MPs pay rises…

  9. I don’t necessarily think that the availability of water canons would be a deterrent.
    The larger scale of force/defence we use, the harder the rioters want to fight.
    Normal cops in a protest line don’t take bricks to the head.
    Replace that line with cops in full riot gear and shields, people will happily start throwing bricks.

    I’m not saying water canon won’t be useful. I just don’t think we need them in Scotland.
    I do think it almost militarises the police, at least from a public perspective, which represents a sad state of affairs we’ve let our country get to.
    I personally pride myself that we don’t have or need bigger and better tools to do our job (ie firearms for every beat cop or water cannon).

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