Sandra Laville
The Guardian
November 30, 2011

Editor’s note: “Public order policing” in Britain will now be akin to efforts to keep the occupied rabble at bay in Northern Ireland with baton rounds and water cannons.

The Metropolitan police is considering the purchase of three water cannon at a cost of nearly £4m to cover London and the south east as part of a new approach to public order policing in the aftermath of the summer riots.

If the Met decides to go ahead it will be the first time that water cannon will be a routine option for police outside of Northern Ireland. The development comes as the Met also reveals that more officers are being trained to support its baton round teams, so that plastic bullets can be deployed more “spontaneously” when necessary in fast moving public order situations.

In what appears to be a toughening up of its tactics in the aftermath of the August riots, the force is examining whether further legislation is required to give officers more powers when dealing with large scale disorder as well.

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