Police to use plastic bullets, firearms and water cannon

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A report published yesterday says that police will be allowed to use water cannons, baton rounds and even firearms to combat any repeat of the youth uprising that was triggered by the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham.

The report produced by The Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) called ‘The rules of engagement: A review of the August 2011 disorders’ threatened that ‘in extreme circumstances, where life is threatened and police numbers alone are not sufficient, police commanders must be equipped to respond with extraordinary measures’.

The Inspectorate of Constabulary said there were a ‘number of real scenarios’ during August’s youth uprising where greater force and the use of water cannon and even the use of firearms may have been appropriate.

The report also defines new weapons available for use by the police called Attenuating Energy Projectiles or AEPs.

It states ‘Attenuating Energy Projectiles (AEPs) are the currently approved successor to “baton rounds”.

‘They are used with a “baton gun” which has a good quality “red dot” sighting system for improved accuracy.’

The report adds: ‘What will surprise many officers are the relatively high levels of force that the law allows them to consider in such scenarios.’

It says that if a building or property is subject to an ‘arson attack’ then ‘possibly firearms’ can be used.

Situations arising include ‘Barricades and missiles used’, ‘petrol bombs thrown’, ‘Violent attacks on the public in the presence of the police’, ‘Arson attacks on buildings’ or ‘Threats to fire and ambulance’ which can all be responded to by use of water cannon or ‘possible AEPs’.

‘Vehicles driven at the police’ will be responded to using the tactic of ‘vehicle immobilisation’.

The report said water cannon were an ‘effective means of dispersal and incur fewer injuries to the public’ in static and slow-moving scenarios.

The report notes: ‘The first use of AEPs or water cannon in public order on mainland UK will be intensely scrutinised.

‘It will certainly enter the history books, but it will also enter the enduring memory of the affected communities.’