Mayor Boris Johnson and police leaders have failed to make the case for deploying three water cannon on London’s streets according to a hard-hitting report from the London Assembly’s police & crime committee.
The Mayor has asked Home Secretary Theresa May for permission to purchase three cannon for the Met from the German Federal Police.
The vehicles are close to the end of their serviceable life and would need replacing within 2-3 years. If purchased, they’re expected to be ready for use by this summer.
Assembly Members say the Mayor and senior Met officers have given contradictory evidence about “when and where water cannon might have been used in past public disturbances.”
The committee has expressed concern at a lack of clarity about what role the Mayor would play in any decision to use the cannon.
It also says the Met has failed to explain why the cannon are needed this Summer, before a national review into their possible use on the mainland is completed.
Chair Joanne McCartney AM said: “There is no convincing argument for the Mayor’s decision to fund water cannon for the Met for deployment by this summer.
“The Met is pressing for what it calls an “interim solution” without clear justification for its urgency. In doing so, it is preventing a full and proper national public debate about water cannon.
“Professional police officers often press for additional powers and equipment; it is the responsibility of politicians to ensure these are really necessary for the protection of the public, not a creeping infringement of our rights.”
The committee’s report is the latest sign of the scale of opposition the Mayor faces over his intention to purchase the cannon.
Earlier this month four Conservative AMs – including former deputy mayor for policing Kit Malthouse – voted with Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat colleagues to oppose any money being spent on water cannon in the coming financial year.
City Hall is currently consulting with Londoners to gauge public support for their purchase.