Published on January 29, 2014 | by Tom Baker


Will the police be using water cannons in London this summer?

It was revealed yesterday that Mayor of London Boris Johnson wants the Metropolitan Police to have water cannons available for use by this summer. In a letter to the Home Secretary Theresa May, the Mayor said he will make the funds available to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe in order for him to “to meet his desire to prevent disorder on the streets.”

Nobody at the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) – the body with formal oversight of the Metropolitan Police – was available to comment, but a press release stated that “since the riots in August 2011 the police and the independent Inspectorate of Constabulary have argued that water cannons should be available as one of a range of tools to respond to serious public disorder. This is supported by the vast majority of the public.”

Opposition politicians have raised concerns that in fact the Mayor may have pre-judged the outcome of a consultation on the use of water cannons which is yet to even begin. Speaking to Arts London News, Joanne McCartney, the Labour Chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, expressed her concern that Boris Johnson might already have made up his mind on the issue.

There may also be legal concerns for the Met; Sophie Khan, solicitor advocate and legal director of the Police Action Centre, suggested that the introduction of water cannons could lead to human rights claims being brought against the police, because of the potential breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment”. The results of the consultation are expected in February.

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