Three water cannons are on their way to London, it has been confirmed, after Mayor Boris Johnson’s order was given the green light.
Use of the controversial policing measure would still need to be authorised by Home Secretary Theresa May, but now the Metropolitan Police is one step closer to having them at their disposal.
The second-hand anti-riot equipment was bought for around £218,000 from the German Federal Police, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said.
They are expected to travel by land and sea next week before arriving in London where they will undergo renovations, the Met Police confirmed.
“They were purchased at this time as it was cost effective, however we stress that these will not be deployed until or unless the Home Secretary authorises the use of water cannon in England and Wales,” the force added.
Mr Johnson gave the purchase the go ahead earlier this month to give emergency services more power to curb large-scale public disorder.
The Greater London Authority’s Police and Crime Committee met yesterday to discuss a number of issues of which water cannon was one.
According to the BBC Mr Greenhalgh was asked why London police were buying equipment that Germany now viewed as redundant. He responded saying that they are “perfectly adequate” having been subject to safety checks.
Modifications need to be made to the vehicles, the mayor’s office said, including the fitting of CCTV.
It comes just two weeks after Mr Johnson agreed to be shot by water cannon to prove their safety.
In an interview with LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari, who asked the Mayor if he would stand with him in front of them when they arrive, the Conservative gave in: “Man or mouse. You've challenged me, so I suppose I'm going to have to do it now.”
Earlier this month Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that he didn't believe water cannons were "the answer to policing the streets of London."
During his phone-in show on LBC he said: "All of this comes from lots of understandable soul-searching after the riots about what more powers or equipment we need to give the police to deal with something like that.
"The idea that in the riots, where people are scurrying down small streets smashing windows and then rushing off - small groups moving around in a very fluid situation - the idea that great big lumbering second-hand German water cannon is somehow going to be wheeled out and sort it out is, I think, fanciful."