“Sound cannon” or Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) could be a safer, cheaper and more effective alternative to water cannon, without the mobility issues, according to Conservative London Assembly Member Tony Arbour.

Priced from £18k – 25 times cheaper than the proposed cost of water cannon – the fixed unit looks like a satellite dish, and emits a targeted, high pitched alarm tone in short bursts. It also has a loud-hailer mode which can be used to broadcast verbal instructions and warnings from a long distance.

Sound cannon was deployed in London during the 2012 Olympics, and has recently been available to police during protests in New York City, Chicago and Barcelona.

Before this morning’s Policing Plenary at City Hall, Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member, said:

Tony-opinion“I value our fundamental right to protest in this country. 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. They have been deployed in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Barcelona. Indeed, given that they were available in London for the 2012 Olympics, why don’t the police have them already?”

In today’s Police and Crime meeting at City Hall, Tony Arbour will ask the following question to Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe: “In light of the fact that “sound cannon” was authorised for use, in emergency situations, in London during the 2012 Olympic Games, is there a case for it to be available for police to use as a last-resort method of crowd control?