Riots in Croydon may have been prevented if the Met Police had been allowed to use water cannons when the disorder kicked off in Tottenham.

This is the view of the commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe who said if his officers had been able to stamp out the violence on August 6, 2011, it may not have spread across London and parts of the UK.

While watching helicopter footage from the Met’s operations room on the night the riots started he says he saw people terrified by the violence and fires being set all around them.

He watched as the officers on the ground were trapped, unable to advance because they were heavily outnumbered and unable to move back because they would leave firefighters unprotected.

Croydon Guardian: Sir Bernard-Hogan Howe says water cannon use could have prevented this scene in Croydon. Picture by Becky Manktelow

Writing in the Evening Standard, Sir Bernard said: “We needed to keep the missile throwers on the move but we could not.

“We needed alternatives.

“Water cannon were available in theory, but in practice they could not be deployed.

“Not only were they needed in Northern Ireland where they were based but we had no trained officers to use them.

“Had we been able to stamp out the violence that night, it may not have spread across London and the UK."

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime agrees it is an option worth serious consideration and a public consultation with Londoners closes on Friday.

The results will be considered and then a decision will be made by the Home Secretary as to whether to authorise the use of water cannon.

But the London Assembly’s police and crime committee said the Met has failed to make the case for purchasing three 23-year-old water cannon from Germany as an interim solution ahead of Theresa May’s decision.

Click here to take part in the consultation.