Gang link to surge in London acid attacks
A significant rise in acid attacks has prompted calls to restrict the sale of corrosive substances. The number of crimes using acid or other “noxious substances” has more than doubled in London over the last three years, where the number of incidents rose from 186 between April 2014 and March 2015 to 397 in the same period in 2016-2017.
Experts have linked the rise to a crackdown on the use of knives and guns, saying street gangs increasingly use corrosive substances, which are more readily available, instead.
The Metropolitan police said that the term noxious substances in their recording system mainly refers to corrosive substances and acids. The figures also include April 2017, when there were 45 crimes, up from 31 in April 2016.
The data confirms the impression given by a spate of reports of acid attacks in London. Last week a 27-yearold man suffered severe burns after being squirted with acid as he walked with a woman in east London. On Monday the chief suspect in an alleged acid attack on two cousins, also in east London, handed himself in to police. John Tomlin, 24, was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent after Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan were attacked while waiting at traffic lights on 21 June.
It follows an incident earlier this year when a noxious substance was launched across the Mangle club in east London, injuring 16 people.
Last Wednesday a woman from Leicester who had poured sulphuric acid on her partner as he slept was ordered to pay him £19,300 ($24,875) in compensation.
Dr Simon Harding, a senior lecturer in criminology at Middlesex University, described the police figures as “genuinely scary” and said it was hard to know how extreme these hundreds of attacks were. “We have had high-profile acid attacks recently ... and they tend to be fairly serious in general. There have been almost 2,000 acid attacks in London since 2010 – that’s huge.”
DCI Mike West, the Met lead for corrosive-based crime, said the use of such substances was an emerging trend among gangs. “It may be responsible for the higher numbers in east London … lots of the incidents there involve possible gang membership and also street robberies.”