Rioters now face plastic bullets

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The Independent Online

The Metropolitan Police has increased the number of officers trained to work with plastic bullets since the August riots, and is considering introducing water cannon.

In its internal report into the disturbances, it said more officers would work on teams armed with "baton round" guns, crowd-control weapons effective up to 40m which have never been used in public order policing on the British mainland. Rubber and plastic bullets have been used in Northern Ireland since 1969 and have been blamed for 17 deaths.

The force said it was also considering the use of water cannon after a row between senior officers and the Government in the summer over their suitability for use in the disturbances that spread from London to other cities.

The Met's report said that three vehicles would be needed to make the scheme work and cost about £4m. The force's internal report also conceded that some people in the capital felt let down by the police response, admitting that there were not enough officers to cope.