June 11th, 2014
The Mayor has announced his intention to purchase three water cannon for London. The decision has been made before the Home Secretary has even licensed them for use on the streets of London. The decision to proceed with the purchase has been labelled as “reckless” by London Assembly Police and Crime Spokesperson Joanne McCartney AM. Both the Mayor and Met Police have so far failed to make the case for using water cannon in London. The decision notice was published on the City Hall website.
The consultation on the use of water cannon was rushed through earlier this year, and there is near universal cross-party opposition to them on the London Assembly. The Assembly recently voted against the purchase of water cannon, with all Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green AMs, along with several Conservative members. At a previous meeting of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee the Mayor conceded that he will not have the final say over the deployment of water cannon if they are purchased.
Joanne McCartney AM, London Assembly Labour Police and Crime spokesperson, said:
“I’m deeply concerned that the Mayor is rushing the purchase of water cannon without a proper public debate. There is still confusion over the reasons behind the purchase of water cannon and exactly how the process of their deployment will work. To rush this through is typical of Boris’ slapdash approach to issues of crucial importance to Londoners. It is telling that 20 out of 25 Assembly Members – from all parties – voted against their purchase earlier this year.
“The Met has identified three instances in the last 10 years when it may have used water cannon. Boris says he would have not wanted to see them used in at least one of those situations, the 2010 student protests. Boris wants three old German water cannon as an ‘interim solution’ ahead of the government’s decision on their long-term use across Britain. It’s not clear why the Mayor and the Met believe they need water cannon by the summer. The recent Association of Chief Police Officers report said there was “no specific intelligence” that disorder was anticipated.
Since 2010 we’ve lost 2,435 police officers and 2,441 PCSOs. Water cannon are no substitute for a visible uniformed presence on our streets. The Mayor is trying to bounce this through and Londoners have been given virtually no chance to express their views. Such a monumental shift in policing needs a proper public debate.”