Petition is successful with 23,686 signatures
To: The Home Secretary Theresa May
Prevent the use of water cannon by police in mainland UK
UPDATE: 15/07/15 - Theresa May announced today that she was rejecting the application to use water cannon!
Read about our petition hand in here: https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2014/06/24/water-cannon-petition-hand-in/
Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33538171
Dear Theresa May,
The Association of Chief Police Officers want to introduce the use of water cannon on mainland UK to disperse protests. I believe you should deny this request so as to maintain the public's right to peaceful protest.
Why is this important?
The use of water cannon would be a violent and excessive use of force to combat protests on the streets of the UK. The right to protest is one of the most important aspects of our free and open democracy and I believe that the threat of this weapon will be an inhibitor to people of all ages from exercising that right.
My concerns are twofold.
1 - ACPO's own report into water cannon states that:
"the full-pressure jet from a water cannon is capable of causing serious injury or even death and says there are also possible injuries from the impact on the body of street furniture or other debris." http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/22/police-home-secretary-approve-use-water-cannon-austerity-protest
We have seen all too frequently instances of police abusing their power, and using unnecessary force to break up protests. Be it the death of Ian Tomlinson, or the assault on anti-fracking campaigner Sean O'Donnell, elements of the police force would prefer to use violence and aggression to silence peaceful protest. I don't believe allowing them access to this weapon will lead to less unprovoked aggression, but more.
2. This leads to my second point. The police are not the government's armed guards, hired to subjugate the will of the people. Increasingly I fear they are becoming so. ACPO argue that they would like water cannon in their arsenal "because austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest" http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/22/police-home-secretary-approve-use-water-cannon-austerity-protest
For starters that is presumptive, and is not representative of their own report:
"The report says there is no intelligence to suggest there is an increased likelihood of serious riots within England and Wales." If, however, they are right that increased austerity measures will need to further protests, then so be it. The people have a right to protest against the actions of the government that they do not agree with. It is not the job of the police to suppress this feeling with threat of serious injury, or even death, through the use of water cannon should people wish to protest.
The police are for the protection of us all, not to maintain the establishment status quo. Water cannon are dangerous to the public and reinforce the notion that the police may use excessive force to quell the will of the people.
How it will be delivered
This petition will be delivered directly to home Secretary Theresa May. Click here for details https://you.38degrees.org.uk/events/water-cannon-petition-hand-in