“These water cannon have been used to train officers for deployment in Northern Ireland for the past two years and could provide a vital service on London’s streets tomorrow if required…”
The full cost of the former Mayor’s controversial purchases – which have languished in storage for the last two years – is more than £322,000, meaning the London taxpayer will lose out even if they go for the maximum price.
This covers storage, maintenance and upgrade work on the three crowd control vehicles, including £20,000 on repainting, £5,000 on bodywork repairs due to corrosion and almost £1,000 on installing radio and CD players for the drivers.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan, who took over as Mayor in May, announced today that the water cannon would be sold via the Ministry of Defence, to a reputable European policing or civil defence force.
Boris Johnson: the former mayor bought the cannon (PA)
He said the sale will abide by rigorous ethical standards to ensure the water cannon are not misused in future, ruling out any bids from Middle Eastern states, Russia and probably Turkey.
The Mayor plans to redirect the proceeds, and any funds which would otherwise have been spent on maintaining the crowd control vehicles in future years, into projects to tackle gang crime.
Mr Khan said: “It beggars belief that such a huge amount of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on paying to store these redundant machines.
Criticism: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (PA)
“We’ve been left in this position by the previous Mayor who rashly purchased them before he even had permission to use them, and now it’s my job to claw back as much of London taxpayers’ money as I can.
“I have spent a significant amount of time looking into how I can do this, and have been left with no choice but sell these machines through a process that charges a fee.”
The Met and the German Federal Police estimated that the water cannon would now be worth between £35,000 and £43,000, after substantial upgrade work.
They were originally bought from the Germans two years ago for £28,000 each – a total of £84,000 – but the overall package, including refurbishment was £218,000. Since then the Met has spent vast sums on storage, insurance and other expenses.
This included £32,000 on making the vehicles compliant with the Low Emission Zone, even though they were never used, £20,000 on fitting CCTV and £3,000 on 999 sirens, plus another £3,500 on Met Police signage.
In July 2015, Mrs May refused permission for their use on the capital’s streets, telling MPs that evaluation and testing had shown the cannon could cause serious injuries, including spinal fractures, and raised doubts over their usefulness in fast-moving riots.
The cannon have since been kept in storage by the Metropolitan Police at its Gravesend training facility.
The MoD will take 5 per cent of the sale price, with a further 30 to 35 per cent going to the contractor.
Tory Assembly member Keith Prince said: “Although they cannot currently be routinely used, the Met can apply for a special licence to deploy water cannon were we to have a repeat of events like the 2011 riots – a fact the Mayor is either ignoring or unaware of.
“These water cannon have been used to train officers for deployment in Northern Ireland for the past two years and could provide a vital service on London’s streets tomorrow if required.
“The Mayor wants to make this look like he’s shedding dead weight. The reality is he will get virtually nothing back for what are third-hand vehicles which are currently serving a useful purpose.”