Chief constables are to press home secretary Theresa May to authorise the use of a powerful new water cannon after London mayor Boris Johnson raised serious concerns about the smell of poor people rioting.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says that “the likelihood of increased protests as austerity measures increase into the summer is certain to cause a ‘perfect storm’ of hotter days and unwashed protesters, leading to the atmosphere in central London becoming unbearable”.
The new cannon, a Ziegler Wasserwerfer 9000, can get through its 9,000 litres of water in just five minutes on ‘quick wash’, with the water kept at a constant 5C to “safeguard the health of protesters and protect delicate woollens.”
Fears that the brutal cannon will be used to injure rioters have been dismissed. “It was always the smell that our officers were most concerned about,” explained Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. “Some of these protesters can be guilty of assaulting the nose, if you get my meaning.”
“You have to use the new technology. I remember when we had to police the miners’ strike equipped with nothing but a scrubbing brush and a mangle, it was terrible. And the Poll Tax riots? They caused a stink, I can tell you.”
Reaction from protest groups has been surprisingly positive. “At least I come home after a day of rioting smelling meadow-fresh,” explained one seasoned anti-capitalism campaigner. “After a hard day out being kettled, it used to take several washes to get the smell of class struggle out of my balaclava, but now I have day-long anarcho-confidence!”
In trials of the new water cannon, police soon realised that many protesters were choosing to wear several extra layers of clothing, to get a bigger “load” washed at one time. One Brixton rioter was arrested for carrying a suspected Molotov cocktail, but it turned out to be merely an open bottle of fabric softener. “I was demanding ‘Lenor’, not “Lenin’,” he explained.
Accusations of institutional racism were denied after police asked rioters to group themselves into “whites” and “coloureds”. “This was just a terrible misunderstanding,” insisted a police spokesman. “Although the coloureds do always seem to run when they see us coming…”
One downside to the use of water cannon is the immediate result of heavy flooding to surrounding areas, although police are confident that recent trials did not cause water levels to rise “noticeably”.
Only UKIP’s Nigel Farage has maintained vehement opposition to the new hardware. “We shouldn’t be importing these fancy German water cannons, we should be building our own! Next thing you know, the Germans will be totally re-armed with these things – there’s nothing about water pistols in the Treaty of Versailles,” he ranted, swept away with passion and then by a high-pressure water jet.