Last year London's part-time Mayor Boris Johnson splashed out £218,000 on buying three second-hand water cannons for the police to use in the event of civil unrest. The thinking was that next time something like the 2011 riots break out, the kids can be controlled with a violent hose-down.
Unfortunately for Boris, and fortunately for fans of not-using-grossly-disproportionate-force, today Home Secretary Theresa May slapped down her future Conservative leadership rival by refusing to authorise use the cannons on the British mainland. According to the BBC, she said that there would be a "potential impact of water cannon on public perceptions of police legitimacy". Chief Constables have apparently said it would be an "entirely counterproductive" measure.
"The country has a proud history of policing by consent and this is a decision which goes to its very heart", May said, presumably thinking that any device that can rip off the skin of someone it is pointed at might not be the best of ideas.
The water cannons are also in poor condition, and would apparently require 67 major changes in order to be functional, according to Buzzfeed.
This now leaves the Mayor, who is now also MP for Uxbridge, in a bit of a pickle. Not only has he pissed away all of that cash on these redundant vehicles, but offloading them is surely nearly impossible? The only countries that will want them are going to be the exact sort of dodgy regimes we don't want to be seen to be selling them to.
In the event, Boris has apparently said that London will hang on to them for the time being in case the decision is reversed (if only there was someone in Number 10 more amenable to the idea, eh Boris?). Ah well, to the back of London's metaphorical cupboard they go, along with a cable car that nobody uses, a stupid bridge that will close at night and a bus that gets excruciatingly warm.
If only Boris had been hosed down with one of the cannons to prove how harmless they are, like he promised he would, the tide of public opinion might have changed.
This now leaves Northern Ireland as the only place in the UK where use of water cannons are allowed. Presumably because the people there don't count for some reason.