Editor’s comment: Act now to halt scourge of acid attacks

PUBLISHED: 10:30 04 September 2017

Our t-shirt was badly scorched and burned when acid drain unblocker was poured on it

Our t-shirt was badly scorched and burned when acid drain unblocker was poured on it

Archant photographer

We are clearly in the grip of a new emergence of violent crime – acid attacks.

Much has been said about the reasons. Is it gangs turning away from knives as a weapon of choice?

Is it due to tougher sentences and more searches for knife crime where thugs have also spotted a weakness in the criminal justice system when it comes to the use of acid as a weapon?

Is it due to poor regulation and the ease of purchasing acidic substances of high strength?

It’s probably a bit of everything mixed together which is why it’s such a dangerous scenario.

The attacks are not necessarily gang-related attacks.

Some almost seem random, with robbers also switching to acid as a weapon.

And because of the nature of the injuries – normally permanent scarring of the face – fear of acid is growing in the community.

Havering had the third highest number of acid attacks in London from 2010 to 2017 – behind neighbouring Barking and Dagenham and Newham.

It’s not a league table we want to be near the top of.

If there was one cause, one issue to identify and solve it would be an easier task to overcome.

But we are dealing with multiple factors that include legislation within the industry and curbing the sale of highly concentrated acid.

As our investigation found, it is terrifyingly easy to buy super-strength corrosive substances.

Our test showed the acid we bought left a meat steak charred.

What’s for certain is that if we don’t get very tough, very soon then the damage done to communities could be huge, with people bearing the scars for all to see.

A petition calling for a ban on buying acid without a licence, has gathered half a million signatures. And Havering Council is joining forces with the police to host borough-wide seminars that will provide guidance for bars and nightclubs.

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