Water cannon should be used against violent protests
Water Canon are used around the world to control violent protests such as those that have occurred in London over the raising of tuition fees. However the Metropolitan police and Theresa May the Home Secretary seems unsure whether they should be used or not. British police has always been about using the minimum possible force yet they have still been caught in controversy about over reacting with kettling of peaceful protests and for the death of Ian Tomlinson at protests in 2009 and a student sustaining bleeding on the brain at the most recent protests. The police will also need to weigh the impact of cuts, can they afford to have so many officers out for big protests and would water cannon not be a way to reduce the need for numbers?
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As a last resort for the police
Police somehow must have a tool to help them to control the crowd.If the protesters have became violent, it will be appropriate for police to use the tool to send a 'message' that violent during protest will not be tolerated.More often that not, protesters gets emotional and start causing violence. Police will have hard time stopping the violent protesters in a large crowd without any tool.Water cannon though potentially harmful, is a mild tool compared to baton and guns.However, water cannon must only be used appropirately like guns. Unless there is any violence, water cannot should not be used .
water cannons are indescriminate
If it is clear, which it is, that there are only a minority of
violent protesters, water cannons are clearly not appropriate. They are capable of knocking whole crowds down, and this is simply not fair on the people who are protesting peacefully. They will be caught up in the use of water cannons and can be harmed in the process. The harming of peaceful protesters is simply not justifiable.
When these protests turn violent the innocent get harmed anyway. With the use of water cannons we can actually limit the amount of innocent protesters harmed by stopping the riots caused even if a few innocent protesters are harmed in the process.
water cannons cause serious harm
The use of water cannons is not simply about getting the protesters a bit wet to dampen their spirits and make them fall down; it is to use the force of water to knock people over! There have been many listed injuries that such water cannons can cause; [[http://thethirdestate.net/2010/12/the-truth-about-water-cannons/]]. People have had their eyes ripped out. Bones can be broken by the force of the water. There are many injuries that result, and considering the small number of violent protesters, this is quite simply not necessary.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has received 85 complaints to date regarding the behaviour of police during these protests[[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11985566]]. This means that people feel the police are not being seen as behaving proportionately to the threat caused by the protests. If we allow the use of water cannons in prescribed circumstances, such complaints could not be made as the police could be objectively judged on the criteria in which water cannons would be allowed to used. It would be easier to know when the police have acted disproportionately.
they will hinder peaceful protests
Under the Human Rights Act, the Police have a duty to promote not hinder peaceful protests. They will not be complying with this duty if they use water cannons. If the use of water cannons were allowed, many peaceful protesters would actually not attend protests and would be compelled not to go through the fear of injury by water cannons. They will also hinder people who are peacefully protesting when the water cannons are used. The actual use of the water cannon would immediately stop the protest and it would hinder the protesters rights of expression and assembly. These people would be prevented from having their veiws heard.
• Right to Peaceful Assembly – Article 11
• Right to Freedom of Expression - Article 10
• Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – Article 9
• Right to respect for private and family life – Article 8
All of the rights listed are qualified. And whilst peaceful protests have to be helped, violent ones cannot. Given the hard task the police have of differentiating the violent from the non-violent protests, the right gives leeway for such protests to be stopped in the interest of public safety [[http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/contents]] it is for this reason that water cannons should be used.
it is a breach of Rule No1 of Policing By Consent (crime prevention)
Sir Robert Peel distinguished 9 rules of policing by consent. It is under this system that the police are to rule by in Britain, the use of water cannons breaches the very first principle of this.
"To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment" [[http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/policeNine.php]]. The use of water cannons is far from crime prevention. In fact, it is more like crime itself. The harming of the innocent. The use of water cannons is much more akin to military oppression and this is one division that Britain has always been keen to keep; the police are not home militants. In order to maintain public confidence in the police and maintain the concept of policing by consent, we should not allow the use of water cannons.
How can it be said that the current system of policing maintain the concept of policing by consent when there are 111 complaints regarding police behaviour since the first student protest regarding tuition fees in November [[http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/pr_161210_jodymcintyre.htm]]? Obviously the current policing system we have is not working. Perhaps the police need to have a more military based presence in order to command public respect.
the use of water cannons is disproportionate in these situations
An estimated 25000 [[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332484/TUITION-FEES-PROTEST-London-streets-flames-25k-rampage.html]] students up and down the country took part in these protests and yet under 100 have been arrested [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11985566]]. Given these figures, we can see how disproportionate the use of water cannons would be.
Breach of Policing Rule 2 (public consent)
Sir Robert Peel's Rules to Good Policing:
Rule 2: To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
The public will not approve of the police using water cannons. Therefore, the use of cannons may actually result in more complaints and even more problems in the relationship between the police and the protesters.
At the moment the police do not have the public's respect, they are being complained about, they are having trouble handling the hatred that the protesters have with the police. The face to face contact is not helping this. If the police were more distant, they would have more respect and so they would be able to comply with this rule better if they could deal with the problem from a distance. For this reason, the use of water cannons would be helpful.
What do you think?