Challenges to the Metropolitan Police (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Jenny Jones (AM): You have changed your tune on the issue of water cannon, because in the past you said, 'This is a great city of free speech and we do not want to see any arms race with protestors' but now you are saying you approve of using these machines.

Answer

Answer for Challenges to the Metropolitan Police (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Challenges to the Metropolitan Police (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, what I said --

Jenny Jones (AM): No, you have, because why else would you allow them to be on the streets of London?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, I think perhaps you were not here the last five minutes. What I said was that I was in favour of the option being held in reserve.

Jenny Jones (AM): That means you are in favour of their use.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If you say do I approve of these things being used on the streets, that goes directly to what Len [Duvall AM] just asked me. Under any circumstances if the police wanted to use water cannon, which I think is vanishingly unlikely, but if they did they would certainly have to get the approval of the Mayor.

Jenny Jones (AM): So you are in favour of spending many missions of pounds, because they cost £1.3 million each, then there is the training for the officers, updated all the time, there is the storage there is the maintenance, storage in central London, because they are very difficult to move around. You are in favour of spending all that money but you are not in favour of using them. Have I got that right, or have I got that wrong?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, I am in favour of Britain having an independent nuclear deterrent but I am not in favour of using it on Luxembourg just to show them who is boss.

Jenny Jones (AM): Mr Mayor, can you stick to water cannon? Do you not see any contradiction in wanting to have them but not being prepared to use them?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, I do not see any contradiction. In fact, I think the argument speaks for itself and what we want to do is make sure the police --

Jenny Jones (AM): So you are in favour of spending all the money on having them, all the training, all the storage, all the maintenance, you are in favour of spending all the money but you are not in favour of using them?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think they would be --

Jenny Jones (AM): I am trying to get clear. What do you say?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Obviously in extraneous, I can imagine, as I think Len [Duvall AM] himself conceded, there are circumstances in which the threat or even the use of water cannon might be valuable. I think it vanishingly unlikely that we will actually deploy them, but to have that option is valuable, just as it is vanishingly unlikely that we will face a nuclear strike from North Korea.

Jenny Jones (AM): Focus on water cannon, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You might as well have the ability to deter it in the form of a strategic nuclear weapon.

Jenny Jones (AM): Do you know that the previous chair of the Police Authority said that the truth is that water cannon do not stop a riot? So, you are spending money on something that will not work and that you will not approve, or you will approve. I still have not quite got it. You will approve it, or you will not approve it? You just want to approve the money, the spending on it, is that right?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think there might be circumstances in which it could be used.

Jenny Jones (AM): Thank you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I said, I think Kit [Malthouse AM] is certainly right.

Jenny Jones (AM): You appointed him.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think he is certainly right that the use of water cannon will not necessarily stop --

Jenny Jones (AM): I am sorry, you are repeating yourself, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Lots of things are essential for stopping riots but it would be foolish and I think Londoners would not want us to rule out the use of such a facility.

Jenny Jones (AM): Can we stop the clock?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): It makes sense to me to give the police that option, even though I am not disposed to use it and I hope that is clear.