Friday, 12 August 2011

Morecambe's MP calls for baton rounds and water cannon against rioters

Morecambe MP David Morris has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, calling on the government to allow the use of water cannon and plastic baton rounds in the event of future riots - tactics that have been rejected, so far, by the police and condemned by civil rights activists.

The test of Mr Morris motion reads:
That this House notes that work-shy thugs are attacking the homes and businesses of ordinary hardworking Britons; further notes that these people cannot be allowed to succeed; believes that bullies only ever respond to strength; and further believes that it is right to encourage the police to use water cannons and plastic baton rounds to stop them in the future.
You can view the Motion - which has yet to gain support from other MPs - here.

Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron has already indicated that water cannon is ready to be used in the event of more unrest. But police chiefs have been robust in rejecting calls for military intervention, water cannon and plastic bullets – and have instead redeployed and inflated the number of officers on the street to good effect.

Civil rights activists also point out that once given such powers, the police could also use them in other situations - where the justification for such extreme tactics might not be so clear cut.

Civil rights organisation Liberty notes that Tim Godwin, acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that he would rather be the last man left in Scotland Yard, with all his management team out on the streets, than call for the army. Sir Hugh Orde, head of ACPO, dismissed the use of both water cannon and baton rounds as inappropriate for the current circumstances and flatly stated that "to suggest human rights get in the way of effective policing is simply wrong".

"Since 1934, Liberty (the National Council of Civil Liberties) has been a critical friend to the police and has never shied away from holding them to account," notes Liberty's Director of Policy,Isabella Sankey. "However, similarly we must also give credit where it is due.

"Past use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland resulted in at least 14 deaths, including nine children. This time in England, wise police leadership has resisted the temptation to resort to dangerous riot control weapons and has instead tackled the problem without fanning the flames. We urge politicians to hold their nerve and do likewise."

Morris has tabled a mix of EDMs since his election, including the constructive suggestion for a means for the parents of autistic children to register the problem once, rather than have to fill in forms annually for health care; support for the High Speed Rail link, providing local rail stations are included as stops; support for Sainsbury's Switch the Fish campaign, enouraging people to try different fish rather those that are endangered; and the registration of hairdressers. (Mr Morris is himself a qualified hairdresser)

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