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The number of acid attacks in London has increased sharply over the past few years.
According to Freedom of Information requests, statistics from London Met show there were 166 attacks using poisonous or corrosive fluids in 2014, and 261 in 2015. The number almost tripled in two years to 454 attacks in 2016.
The UK government has just released a report in response to the concerns that acid attacks are increasing.
The new report highlights that the government is aware that there have been calls for the criminalisation of possession of acid without good excuses, to class acid as an “offensive weapon,” and to introduce tougher sentences for those who commit such attacks.
It states that the “Government’s main focus is currently on working with retailers to look at possible ways of restricting the sale of certain acids,” and that there will be an adjournment debate on the issue of acid attacks on Monday July 17.
East London has apparently seen the biggest increase in these sorts of attacks. For example, this week, five people were attacked with acid in different locations around east London.
In April, people at Mangle in London Fields fled the nightclub when a corrosive liquid was allegedly thrown all over them.
In June, business student Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Muhktar were attacked by a man who threw acid on them through their car window.
Khan described the event in a shocking and honest thread on her Twitter account. “We were running around screaming and begging for water,” she wrote. “We did this for 45 minutes. No ambulance came.”
Her cousin was apparently put into a coma and she described the pain as “excruciating.”
Khan also wrote an open letter to to ask for the following: “A statement from the Metropolitan police to condemn attacks involving corrosive substances, for retailers to tighten regulations in regards to the sale of corrosive substances, considerations of stricter punishment for those that use corrosive substances as a weapon, for the possession of corrosive substances without good reason to be a criminal offence and for the introduction of a licensing program to prohibit access of harsher corrosive substances to individuals without undergoing stricter controls.”
Currently, there is no one specific offence to charge people with if they commit an acid attack. Instead, people are charged with more general crimes such as wounding, causing grievous bodily harm, or sending, throwing or using explosive or corrosive substance. The maximum sentences for these vary from 5 years to life in prison.