As a Mayor of London keenly aware of democracy, Boris Johnson held three polls as to whether he should buy water cannon, after the London riots. The Met badly needed them. . Boris did not just wake up one morning and think “Today I fancy hosing down a few people.” The Met were rightly concerned that, after the worst violence in living memory, 44 police were injured, 4 very seriously. There were 450 arrests, many of them foreign insurgents, some armed. Water cannon can prevent buildings burning to the ground and protect fire fighters and paramedics in a way hoses cannot. Hundreds of buildingsw were burnt to the ground. The cops wanted to prevent this happening again.
The BBC News poll reported: “The poll found 78% wanted the police to use curfews to tackle future riots, 72% wanted water cannons, 50% called for tear gas and 38% for rubber bullets. The poll, commissioned for BBC London’s Inside Out Programme, showed 55% agreed that police should have powers to block social networking sites during riots.”
Finally, a massive public consultation of 4,200 people held in September, 2011, voted 68% in favour of water cannon. Even the Mayor was surprised, because previous polling of 90% in favour and 72% in favour, from YouGov and BBC polls were taken at the height of the riots.
David Cameron was strongly in favour of the water cannon, saying “The police must have the equipment they need” as he authorised their purchase over the head of Theresa May. He declared it was “a matter of principle.” but later reneged. (!)
So convinced was Bojo of the safety of water cannon, he offered to be publicly hosed down! Sadly, the refusal of Theresa May to authorise them denied us that delightful spectacle!
If Sadiq Khan were a truly democratic Mayor, since the people voted resoundingly in favour of water cannon, he should at least hold a consultation before selling them off, to make a purely political point. But not all Mayors are as innately democratic as Boris Johnson.