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London: The Summer of Water Cannons

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richheap
richheap  
1/15/2014 4:41:39 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: This is what seems extreme
I might have made that point ineptly, stotheco. I'm trying to say that I think the police already do have the equipment to do their job effectively. I'm sure there are ideas of how they can more effectively use the equipment they have, and there will also be ideas for new equipment that would make them more effective. By and large, I think the police do a decent job and I'm not sure what would be of most help to them.

richheap
richheap  
1/15/2014 4:38:18 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: This is what seems extreme
Most of the UK police don't have guns, but some do. There would be armed police available if they came up against people with weapons. It's just that police over here don't carry guns as a matter of course.

stotheco
stotheco  
1/15/2014 4:11:32 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: This is what seems extreme
The choice is between equipping the police with water cannons, or deciding that they can do their job effectively with the powers and equipment they have at their disposal.

You make a lot of valid points, Rich. From the looks of it, they consider water cannons as perhaps the most viable option. For your latter point on how they can do their job effectively with their current equipment, would you have any suggestions though?

stotheco
stotheco  
1/15/2014 4:10:29 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: This is what seems extreme
Dave, I agree with you on this. It's not so much as the weapons but in the attitude. There are just some people out there--police or not--who are trigger happy, and they're the ones who present the biggest risks. I'm a bit on the fence with this one, but considering how UK police aren't armed, I think it's perhaps useful that they will have something to implement and keep order.

stotheco
stotheco  
1/15/2014 4:09:12 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: This is what seems extreme
I would like to think that the water cannons are going to be used as a last resort type of thing. As you mentioned, UK police aren't armed with weapons. The people who they might be facing up against might--so I think they have to have at least something they can use to defend themselves.

Davedgreat2000
Davedgreat2000  
1/13/2014 3:15:52 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: This is what seems extreme
Rich,

I do know that the Police are outnumberd by the people. Unless the protest is a handfull of people they wont use watercannons, but if you have thousands of protesters and only several hundred police officers, it gets pretty harry and scary. I dont agree with them being armed to the teeth either but they have to protect themselves. What i am afraid of is the I can do no wrong attitude of police that they are above us and above the law. Thats what scary.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/13/2014 9:51:09 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: This is what seems extreme
"It's not the £90,000 cost I object to, but the risk of mission creep and the potential to use heavy-handed policing methods to police legitimate protests."

That I do understand, and that's my concern as well. No, I wouldn't want water cannons used on the streets of New York, either. I believe that the city was heavy-handed enough when it came to removing Occupy Wall Street protestors.

Your reference to 9/11 is an important one... yes, in the immediate aftermath of these events we vote with our emotions. Now that there's some distance from the London riots, my take is that these would be effective enough during riots; and that their presence could create the real potential for abuse during peaceful protests.

richheap
richheap  
1/13/2014 9:26:30 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: This is what seems extreme
That's a big difference between the UK and US, though. In general, our police aren't armed. It's tough to draw parallels between the countries because the starting point is so different.

Yes, I'd take being hit by a water cannon rather than being shot (assuming I was at risk of either), but that isn't the choice here. The choice is between equipping the police with water cannons, or deciding that they can do their job effectively with the powers and equipment they have at their disposal. I don't think the water cannon adds much to help police protect the public, and I think the threat to free speech outweighs any potential benefits. First, they're used at riots. Then they're used at protests that have turned violent. Then they're used "at protests at risk of turning violent" etc.

Davedgreat2000
Davedgreat2000  
1/13/2014 9:13:44 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: This is what seems extreme
Rich,

I've seen a lot of reports that the Police forces here in the United States are being equiped with armored personal carriers (look at it this way, at Tank minus the guns attached), painted in Police colors, while all the Police are pretty much armed like U.S. Soldiers. I'll take a water cannon any day of the week. At least I know I have a better than 90% chance of living if I get hit by a water hose or cannon. besides I probably would not put myself in a situation to be hit by a water cannon.

richheap
richheap  
1/13/2014 4:56:18 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: This is what seems extreme
Well Nicole, we might have supported them during the riots but that doesn't mean we have to support them away from the riots. We supported a lot of anti-terror legislation in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 but some of that now looks heavy-handed.

I'm not convinced that water cannons would have made much difference during the riots, or at least not the three Boris currently wants (though I'd expect him to buy more after this initial batch). There was rioting in more than 12 parts of London and, even if three water cannons dispersed people in some of those groups, the people would have split into smaller groups and caused havoc in other areas. Water cannons are pretty limited.

London will undoubtedly experience riots again, but rioting on the scale of what we saw in summer 2011 is very rare. It's not the £90,000 cost I object to, but the risk of mission creep and the potential to use heavy-handed policing methods to police legitimate protests. Civil liberties is the big issue here, not the financial case.

Would you like to see water cannons used on protestors in New York?

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