Boris Johnson has been urged to drop plans to equip the Met with water cannon after New York’s police commissioner said they had a “horrific history” in the US.
Last year Mr Johnson, who is currently visiting the city, bought three water cannon from the German Federal police and is waiting to learn if the Home Office will approve their use in London. The long delayed decision is now not expected until after the General Election.
Speaking to LBC, New York commissioner Bill Bratton said the cannon had become an “anathema” following their use to suppress demonstrations during the campaign for civil rights.
He added that they wouldn’t be “contemplated being used anywhere in America” today.
Joanne McCartney, Labour’s Crime Spokesperson on the London Assembly, says the Mayor “would do well to heed Bill Bratton’s warning and drop his misguided plans to put water cannon on the capital’s streets.”
She added: “The Home Secretary’s continued reluctance to approve their use suggests that she agrees that these kind of dangerous and blunt tools have no place on London’s streets.
“It’s time the Mayor accepted he was wrong to waste millions of pounds of tax payer money on these water cannon and sold them so we can reinvest the money in things the Met actually needs.
“There is clear cross-party opposition to water cannon in London as last year’s London Assembly’s Water Cannon: Why the Met’s case doesn’t wash report made clear.”
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon echoed Ms McCartney’s comments, saying: “Bill Bratton’s intervention on this issue is both timely and helpful. However I fear he will join a long list of people that the Mayor has decided to ignore on this issue, including of course the London Assembly.
“Water cannon runs the risk of innocent people being injured and it will certainly undermine policing by public consent. Yet at the same time it is an ineffective tool to manage serious public disorder situations.”
“Having heard detailed evidence on this issue there are very good reasons why the majority of members of the Police and Crime Committee have firmly rejected its adoption in London. How many more people will the Mayor ignore on this issue?”
Green party AM, Baroness Jenny Jones, said: “If there is one thing I hope the Mayor takes away from his trip to America it is that water cannon has no place on our streets. He should listen to Mr Bratton on this issue because the further militarisation of our police will ultimately damage the public’s trust in them.”