Toys for the boys in blue

This, from the Guardian website, 22 January 2014: ‘The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says that the need to control continued protests "from ongoing and potential future austerity measures" justifies the introduction of water cannon in Britain for the first time.’

Is it justified? No: ‘The report says there is no intelligence to suggest there is an increased likelihood of serious riots within England and Wales, but states "it would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest".’ (My italics.)

Would it be a fair assumption? Not necessarily. Another assumption would have to be made first – that Acpo members have their fingers on the pulse, much as they do with stop and search and the use of firearms. Not, m’lud, proven. And, in any case, continued protest is a democratic right, not an argument to be used to support the acquisition of bright, shiny new equipment. In case you were wondering, ‘A new water cannon costs between £600,000 and £1m depending on its specification and lasts for 25 to 30 years.’

Acpo anticipates that any water cannon will be regarded as ‘a national asset’.

Apparently, the use of water cannon would have been considered (if only they’d had them) during the Tottenham riots in August 2011, but they would have had only limited impact on the "fast, agile disorder" seen then. So they can be used only in wide open spaces where the demonstrators – sorry, rioters – obediently stand around in nice orderly ranks so they can receive a soaking from the newly acquired national assets.

Such penetrating analysis and insight helps me to sleep better at night. Aren’t our police wonderful?

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