Home Secretary Theresa May is unlikely to approve the use of water cannon in London before the end of year, London Assembly members were told today.
Although oversight of the Met is devolved to City Hall, the deployment and use of water cannon on the UK mainland requires the Home Secretary’s permission which is subject to a Home Office safety assessment.
In June the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) bought the cannon despite not having received Mrs May’s approval.
At the time the decision was defended on the grounds that the Met faced competition from other international forces for the vehicles and that it could take up to two years to secure other cannon.
Recently the German Federal police have cast doubt on those claims, insisting their were no rival bids for the two vehicles.
A majority of Assembly Members, including some of Mayor Boris Johnson’s Conservative colleagues, oppose the purchase and use of water cannon in London.
Mr Johnson and senior Met officers say they’ll rarely be used, but are an essential tool in the force’s ability to maintain public order.
Appearing before the Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee on Thursday, deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said the safety assessment was unlikely to conclude before the end of the year.
Accused of wasting money on a rushed purchase, Mr Greenhalgh said the cannon were being used for training pending the Home Secretary’s final decision.
He also denied misleading AMs when previously saying the Met faced competition from other forces for the vehicles.