The Mayor of London is to consult the public on whether the Metropolitan Police should have a water cannon.
Boris Johnson said the tool could be used for crowd control in situations of exceptional public disorder, such as the the rioting that took place in the capital in August 2011. He wants to hear the views of Londoners and it will be up to the Home Secretary to make the final decision.
Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK where water canons are used, but in the aftermath of the London Riots Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has repeatedly said it would be a valuable tool for the police in a few rare situations, and has asked the Mayor to fund the purchase.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: "Surveys have indicated strong support for the police to have every tool at their disposal to prevent riots. The professional view of police leaders is that water cannon would be a useful tactic to help protect people and property in response to extreme public disorder.
"The Mayor has given his support in principle, subject to proper rules for deployment, but our tradition of policing by consent means we do not want to go ahead until we have heard from Londoners."
Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner at the MET, said: "I both believe that water cannon in London would be rarely seen and rarely used, but that it should be available to help our officers protect people and property in the event of the most serious public disorder."
Organised by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), a six-week engagement period will include a series of public and stakeholder meetings. Details of these including how to register to attend can be found on the MOPAC website .