Mayor Boris Johnson has declared his support for the Metropolitan Police’s request to buy three new water cannons to be used in the capital.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Teresa May last week, the Mayor said that he backs the Met Commissioner’s request, following the results of a poll, which show that Londoners are in favour of providing police with cannons.
Police plan to use water cannons to prevent “serious and exceptional public disorder”, such as the 2011 riots that took place across London, having a dramatic affect on Croydon and Hackney.
Steve O’Connell, GLA Member for Croydon & Sutton, who agrees with Johnson, said: “I would expect the use of cannons to be extremely rare and under appropriate controls. My borough suffered badly from the London riots, and I am sure that my residents would not object to the use of a water cannon in extreme circumstances.”
The TNS poll, conducted this year, showed that over two thirds of the 4,223 people asked wanted the new water cannons to be available. Over 52 per cent also said they would have greater confidence in the Met’s ability to respond to serious public disorder.
In a public statement, Johnson, said: “No-one wants to see water cannon routinely
deployed on the streets of London but having carefully weighed up all the evidence, I have concluded that there is broad support amongst Londoners for the use of this measure by the police in limited circumstances”
A Met spokesman confirmed that the water cannons would only be used on rare
occasions. He said: “The Water cannon could have been used to put the fires out (during the riots), and it’s safer for the officers to do their job.” He added that it is difficult to know whether a cannon could in fact have prevented the riots in 2011.
The final decision on whether to license the cannons for use in the UK lies with the Home Secretary, who is yet to reach a final decision.