British Police Look to Water Cannons to "Deal With Protesters"

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The Telegraph/UK

British Police Look to Water Cannons to "Deal With Protesters"

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A mounted police officer pushes protesters back during a protest against an increase in tuition fees on the edge of Parliament Square in London, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The Metropolitan police is considering its tactics after rioters attacked officers with metal poles, smashed windows and even vandalised a car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during protests against rises in university fees.

''The Met Police obviously have to look at how they should be dealing with these demonstrations,'' Theresa May said. ''They will look across the board and they will be making operational decisions.''

She also defended the ''robust'' police response to the disorder that saw dozens of officers and protesters injured, and more than 30 arrests made.

''What is absolutely crucial is that for those who did inflict criminal damage, for those who were breaking the law, that they should now feel the full force of the law on them,'' Mrs May told Sky News' Sunday Live.

Mrs May, who she would be making a full statement to MPs on the tuition fee protests tomorrow, added that royal security measures will also probably have to change.

She suggested the historic Rolls-Royce Phantom VI used to transport the royal couple to the theatre on Thursday evening might not be ''appropriate'' for future events.

The car was a gift from the Car Association for the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year of 1977, but there has been criticism that it is too distinctive and not secure enough for regular use. One of the windows was smashed during the attack on Thursday evening.

Mrs May confirmed that Camilla had come into contact with the mob who surrounded the car in the West End and poked sticks through the window.

''What we need to do is find out what happened in this incident and to see whether there is anything that can be learnt from this incident,'' Mrs May said.

olice leaders have urged the authorities to consider making water cannon available for the first time on the British mainland.

One senior source at the Police Federation said the rioting in central London would have come to a much earlier conclusion if protesters had been given a "good soaking".

lie Spence, a former chief constable, agreed that the use of water cannon should be part of any public order review.

Paul Davies, who heads the Police Federation's operational policing committee, said the measure "would certainly be controversial but it comes back to protecting members of the public and allowing police officers to do their jobs".

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