Home secretary announces ‘action plan’
POLITICIANS including the Home Secretary and Mayor of London are calling for action after an increase in the number of acid attacks, particularly in London.
On Thursday July 13, five men were attacked with acid in less than 90 minutes by two people on a moped.
A 16-year-old boy from Croydon has been charged with 13 offences in connection with the incident, all of which he denies.
In west London alone there have been 72 attacks in the past three years, while Metropolitan Police recorded 833 crimes involving “noxious or corrosive liquids”, or where the suspect caused explosions or threw corrosive fluids with intent to harm.
In a letter in the Sunday Times, home secretary Amber Rudd addressed the capital’s concern over the attack by announcing an “action plan”.
She plans to review Crown Prosecution Service guidance to reclassify acid and other corrosive substances as dangerous weapons, as well as looking into whether more chemicals should be proscribed under the Poisons Act.
She is also seeking tougher prosecution, adding “life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors”.
“Be assured, this government, working with law enforcement and others, will take action,” she added.
London mayor Sadiq Khan called for a zero-tolerance approach, focusing on tougher sentencing and sanctions, and clarified guidelines for judges and a clampdown on sales of corrosive sub- stances. He is also calling for increased victim support, noting the impact the disfigurement can have on innocent victims.
“Acid attacks are callous and horrific and my thoughts are with all those affected,” he said. “The emotional impacts of disfiguring and lifelong scarring are truly devastating for innocent victims.
“The Metropolitan Police take these attacks extremely seriously and are doing everything in their power to tackle them. However, we need a new zero-tolerance approach as a country if we are to rid the streets of this scourge.
“I am pleased that the Home Secretary seems willing to take action and I urge her to change the law to recognise people are now carrying these dangerous substances with the intention of using them as an offensive weapon.
“I also want to see the introduction of tougher sentencing for those who think that is acceptable to do so. Just like a knife can be used lawfully in our kitchens or unlawfully by criminals, many of us use household cleaning products in our daily life.
“We now have to say to manufacturers and those in retail that they need to be more responsible and that means the government looking at a change in how these products are sold. It is also important that we clarify sentencing guideline for judges so that the full force of the law can be applied.”
The 16-year-old charged in connection with the July 13 incidents was charged with GBH with intent, possession of a weapon designed to discharge a noxious liquid, two counts of robbery, four counts of attempted robbery and five counts of attempted GBH with intent. He also faces another charge of robbery of a moped on June 25 in a separate incident, which he also denies.
The boy appeared at Stratford Youth Court on Monday and was remanded in custody to appear at Wood Green Crown Court on August 14.
One man sustained “life-changing” injuries in the attacks on July 13
Home secretary Amber Rudd