Tooting MP Sadiq Khan criticises decision to buy water cannon

By Amy Martin and Emma Griffin

Boris Johnson’s decision to buy three water cannon is a ‘sign of his complete failure’, according to Tooting MP Sadiq Khan.

Earlier this week, the Mayor of London revealed he had purchased the German water cannons, despite the fact that the Home Secretary has not yet given permission for their use.

The controversial purchase was criticised by many, who said that the mayor’s focus should be on having more police officers on the streets.

“I have real concerns with the Mayor’s decision. As it stands, we are yet to see any evidence from the police that water cannons would actually work,” said Mr Khan.

“Local residents want reassurance that the police can be relied upon to catch criminals and keep us safe. Water cannons should not be used as an alternative to having enough police officers.”

At Mayor’s Question Time in City Hall on Wednesday, Mr Johnson defended his decision and said he would happily be blasted by a cannon to prove they are safe for use.

 “My view is that we have to equip the police with the water cannon that they say they need, it would be wrong to deprive them of that tool,” said Mr Johnson.

“I have to think about the needs of the police, their request to me and their view of how they can manage public disorder situations.”

Although he admitted that he hoped they would never be used, the mayor stood firmly by his conviction in ordering them.

He added: “We have determined that a clear majority of Londoners support the police having access to water canon if the situation for it should arise.”

“Water cannon are not something that I want to see on the streets of London. I do not want them ever to be used – in an ideal world they would never be deployed.”

“The question for us as public servants of London is can we tell the police that they cannot have access to that utensil, especially since they already have the use of other more dangerous methods such as batons and horse charges?”

Mr Johnson stated that, although the cannons are costly, they would save tax payers money in the long run – a figure he estimated at 2.4 million.

He claims that the three second hand German water cannons on offer at a reasonable price are too good an opportunity to turn down. If he waits for Home Office approval, these cannons may no longer be available.

“I have a got a duty to protect public funds and we have to get on and give London the equipment it needs,” said the mayor.

Mr Johnson’s obstinacy in the face of such criticism from Home Secretary, Theresa May, is seen by some as a power struggle – both are potential candidates to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister.

While the mayor dismissed any tension between himself and Theresa May, he was confident that the purchase of the water cannons would not be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

He said: “I think it is highly unlikely that the Home Secretary will say no to the use of water cannon.”

Photo courtesy of Southgeist, with thanks.
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