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UK to toughen punishments for acid attacks

July 17, 2017

LONDON: Britain will look at tougher punishments for people who attack others using acid, interior minister Amber Rudd said on Sunday, after a spate of incidents in London in recent months.

Five acid attacks on moped riders in less than 90 minutes across east London on Thursday left several people with facial burns, the latest in what Rudd described as a “worrying increase” in reports of attacks where acid or similar substances had been used as a weapon.

“We can and will improve our response,” Rudd wrote in an article for The Sunday Times newspaper. “It will include a wide-ranging review of the law enforcement and criminal justice response, of existing legislation, of access to harmful products and of the support offered to victims.”

Rudd said guidance to prosecutors would be reviewed so that acid and other corrosive substances could be classed as dangerous weapons, and authorities would be given the powers they need to ensure those who commit such crimes “feel the full force of the law”.

“I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors,” she said.

The government will also work with retailers to agree measures to restrict the sales of acid and other corrosive substances.

Teen charged

British police have charged a teenager with a spate of London acid attacks, as authorities considered whether tougher sentences would curb a spike in assaults with corrosive liquids.

The Metropolitan Police force said late on Saturday that a 16-year-old boy faces 15 charges, including grievous bodily harm. The boy, who can’t be named because of his age, was arrested after five moped riders were sprayed with a corrosive substance during a 90-minute period last week.

One man was left with life-changing injuries, police said. At least two of those attacked were drivers for food delivery services Deliveroo and UberEATS.

Police say the number of reported attacks with corrosive liquids in London rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016. Some appear related to gang activity or the theft of cars and motorbikes.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017