On 20 March 2014, Chief Constable David Shaw, national policing lead for conflict management and chair of the water cannon project board, wrote to the Home Secretary to request that water cannon be authorised for use by police forces in England and Wales.
This authorisation requires the consideration of detailed operational, technical and medical information on the likely impact of the proposed system. As set out in police Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on ‘use of force, firearms and less lethal weapons’, “the evaluation and assessment processes for such weapons include, where appropriate:
- a needs analysis
- determination of operational requirement
- technical evaluation
- medical assessment
- operational performance trials
The processes will take into account relevant strategic, ethical, operational and societal issues, including an assessment of environmental factors.”
The Home Office’s rationale is to be as transparent as possible in providing the background documents that informed the Home Secretary’s decision. However some sensitive information has been redacted to protect personal details and commercial interests and to avoid prejudicing the ability of the police to enforce the law. As a general principle, information has been redacted where it would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, should a request for it be received.
Read the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on public order.