Acid named as Havering’s ‘weapon of choice’

The Recorder has reported on seven incidents involving harmful substances in the past three weeks

The Recorder has reported on seven incidents involving harmful substances in the past three weeks - Credit: Archant

Harmful chemicals, such as acid, used in a spate of attacks have been branded Havering’s “weapon of choice”.

The Recorder has reported on seven such crimes in the past three weeks, including one that left a man fearing he would lose the sight in his left eye.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell has slammed the attacks as “vile and twisted”, while Jaf Shah, executive director of Acid Survivors Trust International, said he is surprised at the frequency of the offences in Havering.

Mr Shah said: “It does seem like within the criminal community that acid is becoming the weapon of choice in Havering.”

“It’s very cheap and accessible.”

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Attacks have been reported across the borough, including in McDonald’s, South Street, Romford and a roadside in Rainham.

The increase in such attacks does not appear to be limited to Havering.

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Provisional figures from the Health and Social Care Centre have revealed that hospital admissions nationally have more than doubled.

In 2004/05, there were 47 admissions, resulting from attacks involving corrosive substances. This figure more than doubled to 106 in 2014/15.

The mum of an acid attack victim has said more needs to be done to stop dangerous chemicals being carried on the streets,

The 43-year-old, whose child was threatened with acid during a robbery in Havering, said: “I think police need to carry out more stop and searches so they can find these people before they do anyone any harm.

“This will then hopefully make others think twice about purchasing it because they know it is likely that they will be caught.”

Mr Rosindell said he will be raising his concerns directly with Havering police. He added: “The use of harmful liquids as a weapon is deeply worrying.”

Mr Shah added: “The government should implement a permit-style system for people wanting to buy acid – there’s no reason most people need to buy a bottle of hydrochloric acid.

“Currently, there’s not even a requirement to show ID to buy these products.

“The Home Office should be looking into this in far greater detail to see why people are choosing it as a weapon and who is using it.

“We don’t have a true picture of the number of attacks occurring. It’s often a hidden form of violence.”

Anyone who has any information about these incidents, or has been a victim of any similar event, should contact Havering Police on 101.

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