Soundbites about "water cannon" and “plastic bullets" from The Boy may sound tough. But the professional plod advises against.
This is Hugh Orde. As one of only two officers in the country to have ordered the use of water cannon and baton rounds in public-order policing, his professional judgment is it would be the wrong tactic, in the wrong circumstances at this moment:
Both require an extremely precise situation. The use of water cannon, while logistically difficult, works against large stationary crowds throwing missiles at police or, as I witnessed in Northern Ireland, at other communities. It achieves distance between police and unlawful crowds that is often vital.Why politicians feel the need to utter these extravagant, but utterly useless sound bites, thereby making complete fools of themselves, is one of those mysteries that will never be solved. The Boy might be better advised if he kept his mouth shut on operational matters. On these, as with many other things, he does nothing but betray his own ignorance.
Utilising baton rounds, an even more severe tactic, is fundamentally to protect life. When I ordered their use, again in Northern Ireland, my officers were being attacked by blast bombs and live fire. I would always use both with a heavy heart, but it is always an issue of proportionality.
What we have seen so far from these riots, involving fast-moving and small groups of lawless people, is a situation that merits the opposite end of public-order policing.
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