Mayor sells unused water cannon for scrappage to fund youth projects

– Proceeds of Boris Johnson’s botched deal to be invested in positive activities for young people

– Sadiq announces new funding of £13.2 million for 72 projects to benefit 42,000 young Londoners

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today announced that three redundant water cannon bought with London taxpayers’ money by Boris Johnson and consigned to storage ever since being bought – more than four years ago – have finally been sold, with funds from the sale to be invested in projects to tackle the root causes of serious violent crime.

Sadiq made a decision to sell the cannon in December 2016, after revealing that the previous Mayor had paid the German Federal Police £85,000 for the machines in June 2014 – without having secured official approval to use them on the streets of the capital.

Costs incurred by the previous Mayor spiralled to an additional £240,000 to bring them up to scratch, which proved a costly mistake as former Home Secretary, Theresa May, refused permission for their use in London in July 2015. Despite the fact they are illegal to use in the UK, it cost more than £322,000 to purchase, fit-out and repair the redundant vehicles.

The water cannon have been on the market since December 2016 and have now been sold to Reclamations (Ollerton) Ltd for £11,025 – all of which will be directed towards vital frontline youth and community services as part of the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, which is helping thousands of children and teenagers in the capital by providing much-needed activities lost because of government cuts.

News of the sale comes as the Mayor today announced the biggest round of funding yet from the £45m Young Londoners Fund, which will help children and young people fulfil their potential. Sadiq is today investing £13.2m in 72 projects across the capital, providing almost 42,000 young Londoners with positive life opportunities.

This funding aims to show young people, including those at risk of getting caught up in crime, a positive way forward through a range of education, sport and cultural activities. It is part of the public health approach to fighting violent crime that the Mayor is taking.

Today, the Mayor visited Spotlight in Poplar – one of the 72 new projects to be funded by City Hall. Spotlight provides music, dance, art and theatre programmes for young people aged 11-19 and will use the Young Londoners funding to scale-up their existing successful programmes to other youth hubs in Bow East, Mile End and Bromley South.

The new funding announced today brings the Mayor’s total investment to £20.5m this year in 179 projects benefitting more than 63,000 young people in London alone.

By contrast, the Home Office recently announced 29 projects to receive £17.7m across the whole of England and Wales – a drop in the ocean when compared to the impact of the government’s repeated cuts to vital youth services since 2010. Local authorities have had their youth service budgets cut by almost 50 per cent, resulting in the closure of 81 youth centres and the loss of at least 800 full-time youth workers in the capital*.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “For too long, London taxpayers have had to bear the brunt of Boris Johnson’s appalling botched water cannon deal. This has been another waste of taxpayers’ money by Boris Johnson. Londoners continue to live with his vanity. I am pleased we have managed to finally get rid of them and I made an election promise to Londoners that I would claw back as much of this cash as possible,  and pump it into helping young people at risk of being affected by crime and giving them better life opportunities.

“By working with communities and giving young Londoners meaningful things to do, I am doing everything I possibly can to help ensure they make the right choices and do not follow the wrong path at such an important time in their lives.

“Huge cuts in national government funding have had a big impact on London youth services and policing, which we should all be in no doubt has contributed to a rise in violent crime. I am leading from the front by supporting the Metropolitan Police and setting up the Violence Reduction Unit to tackle the complex causes of serious violence. However, it is high time that ministers backed up warm words with action and that means reversing the huge savings enforced on the police and properly funding youth and community services.”

Details of the projects funded can be found at and will be searchable on an interactive map hosted on the City Hall website.

Steve Stride, Chief Executive, Poplar HARCA said: “Spotlight is a creative youth service, run by Poplar HARCA, providing opportunities for young people from across East London. We believe that London is an inspirational place to grow up, however, we recognise that a number of young people face barriers that result in them not reaching their full potential.

“Spotlight is tackling these barriers in our six youth hubs across Poplar and Bow by offering a programme of free activities and state of the art facilities for young people under three strands: Get Creative, Get Active and Get Inspired. This programme has run since 2014 and has engaged over 7,000 young people to date, providing a safe place for young people to think creatively, gain confidence and work with their communities.

“We’re really excited to be working with the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund to enable Spotlight to roll out this successful programme across three priority areas in Tower Hamlets, inspiring the next generation and supporting them to succeed.”

Patrick Green, CEO of The Ben Kinsella Trust, said: “Young people thrive when they are given the opportunity, the support and the encouragement to succeed. The Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund has enabled more youth providers to create services aimed at keeping young people safe, nurturing their talents and helping them prosper. This initiative is a vote of confidence in young people and will help them create the London of the future.”

Margaret Pierre, Director of High Trees on behalf of Building Young Brixton, said: “Building Young Brixton are delighted to have received the Young Londoners Fund, which will have a transformative impact on the lives of the young people we support and the way in which we can work together to deliver youth services across Brixton. Services will include targeted coaching programmes, support services for young women and girls, estate-based after-school provision, social action programmes, sports and wellbeing activities and careers and education workshops to the young people who need them most. Working together in this way allows us to achieve so much more than we could alone, offering opportunities that suit the interests, aspirations and needs of the young people we engage.

“We know the impact of our work, and we’re proud the Mayor has recognised it too – the young people we support to grow and thrive will have their lives made tangibly better by the opportunities made possible by this funding.”

Esther Baker, Artistic Director, at Synergy Youth Theatre, said: “Synergy Theatre Project is delighted to be supported by the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund over the next three years to produce two theatre productions and a film exploring violent crime and performed by cast and crew of professional and ex-prisoners which will tour to 6,000 young people in London targeting those most vulnerable and at risk of offending. It will be accompanied by a programme of workshops, discussions and longer creative projects to divert young people from crime and unlock their talents and future potential.”


Notes to editors

* London’s Lost Youth Services report (Sian Berry, 2018):

The water cannon went up for sale in December 2016, governed by the agreement with the German Federal Police that they could only be sold to public authorities they approve of within the EU. A sale was only permitted to a buyer who meets the most rigorous ethical standards, to ensure the water cannon are not in any way misused in the future. The length of time they took to sell was due to lack in interest from potential buyers, including the UK Government and overseas authorities.

The net receipt from the sale of the water cannon is £3,675 per vehicle.

The detailed combined costs of all three vehicles, between April 2014-April 2016 are below:

Once the cannon were deemed unusable, no further costs were incurred.

Purchase of vehicles and initial fit-out

Cost of vehicles – £85,022.01

Transport to UK – £20,223

Transport within UK – £3,800.01

Supply and fit of warning equipment – £8,584.50

Supply and fit of 999 sirens – £3,109.20

Supply and fit of CCTV systems – £19,376.70

Supply and fit of external/internal intercom system – £4284.30

Supply and fit of PA system – £4288.80

Repainting – £19,035

Supply and fit ‘Battenberg’ police vehicle markings – £4,538.70

Supply and fit Motorola MTM800 radios – £2,708.10

Signage – £3,511.50

Body work repairs due to corrosion – £4,911.15

Mass storage devices – £434.10

Tachograph inspections – £194.10

Radio/CD players – £970.50

Water jet camera housings – £4095.60

Front camera brackets – £2059.20

Tool kits – £986.40

Conversion to UK specification and service parts – £30,625.96

MOT tests – £1,688.04

UK Registration – £499.98

Sub-total – £224,946.85

Additional modifications carried out following Home Office requirements and recommendations:

Internal camera system – £2,477.40

Modification of water jet brackets – £1,909.20

Maintenance, service and inspection

Low Emission Zone compliance – £32,004

Assistance with trials – £12,578

2014/15 – £20,880

2015/16 – £21,866.04

Wear and tear – £6,173.22

Total – £322,834.71

A full list of projects receiving grants, as well as projects that have previously received funding from the Young Londoners Fund, is in the attached document and available at

The Young Londoners Fund is already funding:

  • £750,000 for Stepping Stones to 15 schools to scale up City Hall’s Stepping Stones programme to support 3,000 vulnerable students move from primary to secondary school
  • £90k investment was made to provide opportunities for 1,600 young people to participate in sporting activities offered by seven organisations over summer 2018
  • £410,000 in four sport impact partnerships reaching 1,200 young people
  • £300,000 for Mental Health First Aid Training for professionals working with children and young people
  • £1.18m for MOPAC Knife Crime Community Seeds to increase total funding to £1.4m. 43 projects have been funded to support communities, neighbourhoods and families to stand up against knife crime reaching over 9,000 young people.
  • £500,000 of Young London Inspired YLF funded scale up activity to seven projects supporting over 1,300 young people.
  • £200,000 for four Headstart Action pilots reaching over 400 young people.
  • £490,000 in scaling up the number of youth workers in Major Trauma Centres and to hospital A&E departments, to help steer young Londoners who have been involved in knife crime away from violence in the future.
  • £1m in extending the London Gang Exit programme which will benefit an additional 110 young people.

Bidding for £15m Young Londoners Fund grants opened on 15th May 2018 and closed on 9th July 2018. Applications will open for a further £15m round of Young Londoners Fund grants in May 2019.

The Mayor has made tackling knife and violent crime a key priority. He has invested an additional £140 million in the Met over the last two years, which includes £15m on the Violent Crime Taskforce, specifically to help tackle knife crime. The Mayor and the Commissioner recently took the difficult decision to move 122 officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command to boost the taskforce, which is helping to keep dangerous criminals, weapons and drugs off London’s streets.

In September, Sadiq announced his intention to establish the Violence Reduction Unit to build on a public health approach already underway at City Hall, expanding the work of the Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy to include wider types of violence and look to address the links between violence in the home and on the street.

Every single London borough now has a bespoke knife crime action plan created in partnership with the Met police.

Every school and college in London can now receive a knife wand, to help keep young people safe and prevent knife crime at school. 200 schools in London have taken up the Mayor’s offer of a knife wand.

The Mayor is working to increase the number of Safer Schools Officers across the capital, to engage with pupils and drive down crime in schools.

The Mayor’s first anti-knife crime media campaign, ‘London Needs You Alive’, launched in November. The campaign brings together role models and social media youth ‘influencers’ to encourage young people away from carrying a knife, focusing on their talent and worth to the capital. With hundreds of thousands of social media followers between them, leading grime artist Yungen, MC Bossman Birdie, photographer Tom Sloan and urban poet Hussain Manawer are among those supporting it.