Hundreds of police officers are secretly undergoing training to use water cannon ahead of potential protests this summer, it was claimed today.
6:48AM BST 15 May 2013
Scotland Yard officers said the crowd dispersal weapon “would have been considered as a tactical option” had it been more readily available as violence erupted in towns and cities across the UK.
There are currently six water cannons in the UK but all belong to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and none are held on the British mainland.
Under current arrangements, police forces across England and Wales must provide 24 hours’ notice to access the weapons.
Senior officers have called for additional units to be purchased and then housed on the UK mainland, making them more readily accessible in future disturbances.
Each water cannon costs around £1.3 million and experts believe three vehicles would be needed to ensure operational capability across the UK.
Critics believe the machines are unsuitable and represent a move towards more militant policing.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reacted cautiously to the prospect of acquiring water cannon to deal with future disturbances, stating that they had their “limitations” and were not necessarily the answer.
There have been reports of them causing serious injuries, including broken bones and a ruptured spleen.
Enter the water cannon: Two years on from the riots that scarred Britain, hundreds of police are training at a secret base with a fearsome new deterrent
- London Met police are being trained to use brand new water cannon
- Weapon brought in for officers to prepare for G8 meeting this summer
- Up to 4,000 officers are being trained ahead of Northern Ireland gathering