Prevent Water Cannon Use Against Protests

Target: United Kingdom Secretary of State for Home Department and Member of Parliament Theresa May

Goal: Deny UK police permission to use water cannons on protesters

British police chief constables are requesting Home Secretary Theresa May approve the use of water cannons as a counter-protest measure in England and Wales. Though past requests by UK police have been denied, the constables are claiming that “ongoing and future austerity measures” will cause “high-profile” riots in the near future. Water cannons are, unfortunately, proven to be extremely dangerous. They can cause serious injuries such as blindness, broken limbs and broken ribs. Water cannons can even kill people. The use of such a violent countermeasure is unacceptable in any democracy that respects human rights, and must be prevented.

Water cannons and other serious counter-protest measures create a culture of fear among activists and citizens, thereby threatening freedom of speech. Their use constitutes a violation of human rights. Moreover, their existence is antithetical to the fundamental idea of participatory democracy because of this violation. A country with a truly participatory democratic government would be hypocritical to approve their use. Therefore, the risk of increased protest activity does not make water cannons an acceptable countermeasure for the UK to institute.

In addition, if approved, the water cannons would be acquired at taxpayer expense and would be functional for “between 25 and 30 years.” Once water cannons are purchased and their use is institutionalized, it is highly unlikely that their approval will be revoked during that 25-year period. In matters of human rights, one day is too much use of water cannons. Still, if they are approved now, England and Wales will have 25 years of human rights violations ahead of them.

Sign this petition to tell Home Secretary Theresa May that water cannons are unacceptable and she should not approve their use.


Dear Home Secretary Theresa May,

Use of water cannons is highly dangerous and anti-democratic. They can cause blindness, broken limbs and ribs, and even death. Because of this danger, approving their use will create a climate of fear which amounts to a violation of free speech and the human right to participatory democracy.

For the United Kingdom to remain committed to human rights and democracy, you must deny the police chief constables request for water cannon approval. Their use would not end with austerity protesters if they become institutional and, since the cannons last for an estimated 25 years, this is likely. Therefore, it is crucial that you do not approve them now. Respect your citizens’ human rights and do not approve water cannons.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Eilmeldung via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Dave Voisey says:


  2. Lynn Juozilaitis says:

    Shane on you England & Wales for using such extreme measures against peaceful protestors and activists! Protect the right of free speech and peaceful protest!

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