Adam Bienkov | Wednesday 5 March, 2014 12:00
Boris Johnson was today urged to allow the police to use sound weapons capable of emitting “harmful, pain-inducing sounds,” against Londoners.
Conservative London Assembly Member Tony Arbour called on Johnson to use the weapons as a “cheaper and more effective alternative” to water cannon.
“I value our fundamental right to protest in this country,” Arbour said. “But there are emergency situations, such as the 2011 London riots, where order breaks down, things turn violent and escalate, and there is a significant risk of harm to the public.
“I am asking whether the police would benefit from having sound cannon available, in cases where missiles may be thrown or shops looted by mobs.”
The Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) known as ‘sound cannon’ have been used in other countries and were reportedly held in reserve during the London Olympics.
They consist of a small satellite dish-shaped loudspeaker which emits painful and harmful sounds towards crowds.
Arbour compared the effect of the weapons on individuals as like the “scream” picture by Munch.
The Met Police have been considering using the weapons for some years.
In 2007 it was listed as just one of several new weapons being considered by the force including “discriminating irritant projectiles” (DIPs).
These weapons fire irritating chemicals such as CS spray at at crowds from long-range. The Met began testing DIPs last year.
Boris Johnson has previously been against extending the weapons available to the police, saying that he did not want an “arms race” with protesters.
However, he has since changed his mind and now backs the introduction of water cannon on the streets of London.
Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told the Assembly today that he was not aware of any plans to deploy the weapons but said he was “open” to considering their use.
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