Why the new London mayor is selling the capital's water cannons

The new London mayor, Sadiq Khan, says he is putting three water cannons, bought by prevous mayor Boris Johnson, up for sale because they are a waste of money.

There were calls for Mr Johnson, now Britain’s foreign secretary, to buy water cannons following riots in London which broke out in 2011, when police said they wanted the cannons to use as crowd control. Mr Johnson purchased them second hand in 2014 and they have cost the capital £322,834 so far in initial costs and maintenance.

Just a year after their purchase, the then home secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May banned police from using them in riot situation. She has even mocked the purchase while talking about Brexit negotiations, saying that the last time Mr Johnson did a deal with the Germans, he came back with three nearly-new water cannons.

Maintenance costs

Mr Khan is dead against the water cannons and says he is now getting rid of them because they will cost £175,000 to maintain over the next eight years. The vehicles are now set to be sold via auction by the Ministry of Defence to a reputable bidder from policing within the EU, or a civil protection organisation. The mayor says that money raised will be ploughed back into frontline policing.

He slammed the decision to buy water cannons which are in storage, adding that Mr Johnson acted rashly in the purchase before he knew that he had permission to use them. Mr Khan said he saw it as his duty to try to get as much back as possible. He said that a return to “real neighbourhood” policing would do more for the safety of the city than water cannons would.

However, Mr Johnson has said he believes the decision is a mistake, given that the request for the cannons came from the police.



Judith is a qualified journalist who has worked in both the UK and the US, specialising in writing about politics, education and health.